Five Resolutions for 2016


I’m not great at keeping New Year’s Resolutions, but maybe blogging about them will help me stick to them. Here they are.

1. Don’t use the word “overnutrition”

It is so tempting to use this as shorthand for overweight/obesity and nutrition related non-communicable diseases (for obvious reasons), but whereas undernutrition really does describe scarcity of nutrition inputs, the manifestations above are about imbalances in diet, exercise and enabling environments, not deficits or excess. Much better to talk of malnutrition in all its forms.

2. Work harder to identify interventions that work for malnutrition in all its forms

This means contributing to efforts to unify the nutrition field. Which interventions serve multiple duties (i.e. prevent or reduce all forms of malnutrition), which involve tradeoffs, which are completely ineffective and which are always negative?

3. Make communications about nutrition more sticky

Over the holiday season I met lots of people for the first time (parties, friends of friends etc) who ask “what do you do?”. Whenever I mention nutrition they think I’m a diet guru (maybe in a later life). I don’t even bother with stunting, wasting or micronutrients. We need to do research on what forms of communication will help nutrition “break out” of its bubble.

4. Work hard to learn the practicalities of RCTs

Shock horror you may say, but for the 2 intervention impact evaluations I am involved in (mobile phones and community accountability) RCTs seem like the way to go. But as I am learning there is a big difference between knowing how they work on paper versus in practice. The critics out there might want to get more involved in one–working on them is much more like the research the critics do (i.e. messy and unpredictable) than the drug trials they have in their heads while making their (often well taken) critiques.

5. Be a better colleague

The Global Nutrition Report has a punishing production schedule (November 2014, September 2015, June 2016) and this has made me sometimes skimp on the things that make for a good colleague—the kinds of things that you do when no-one is looking: a quiet word with a colleague who looks to be struggling with something, sharing a paper or report that a partner might be interested in, saying thank you when it is not expected etc.


This post was written by Lawrence Haddad and first appeared on Development Horizons.

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