Co-Authored by Tara Acharya, Senior Manager, Global Health Policy, PepsiCo //
Undernutrition is one of the world’s most serious and least addressed global health and development problems. As a global food and beverage company, PepsiCo believes it can play an important role in reducing the human and economic costs of the issue. Women and children are undernutrition’s biggest victims and, along with other development challenges, undernutrition causes an estimated 3.5 million preventable maternal and child deaths a year. Folate deficiency, which contributes to premature birth, low birthweight and neural tube defects in infants, plays a crucial role in undernutrition. The human body requires folate to manufacture erythrocytes, synthesize DNA, and to regulate normal growth. The recommended daily intake for young women is 400 mg. Poor overall nutrition and lack of access to folate-enriched food products present a critical barrier to women in developing countries.
As part of the our response to this issue, PepsiCo worked closely with the New York Academy of Sciences, InnoCentive and Scientists Without Borders to develop a recently posted “Challenge” on food fortification for women in developing countries. The Challenge seeks to leverage open innovation for solutions to develop a low-cost, practicable, and scalable method to effectively and safely fortify or supplement staple foods with folic acid. Folic acid supplementation in the pre-conception phase is critical for saving the lives of millions of infants and yet many women in developing countries face many barriers to getting enough folate through their diets. Socio-economic considerations suggest that solutions that give women control are likely to have greatest impact. Read more here about this exciting approach to help solve a critical nutrition and public health problem, and if you have solutions, please submit them!