Nutritional Biomarkers in Global Public Health

Speaker: A. Prentice Presented at: 84th Nestlé Nutrition Institute Workshop - Switzerland


Nutritional biomarkers are required for population surveillance, clinical interventions and discovery science. The global public health burden of micronutrient deficiencies is largely in developing countries. In this presentation, Prentice used the assessments of protein, micronutrient and iron deficiencies to illustrate the practicalities of biomarkers in low-income healthcare settings. In times of nutritional crises, these biomarkers can help identify nutritional deficits. Assessment of micronutrient status remains a major challenge. Micronutrient deficiencies can be classified into Type 1 and Type 2 deficiencies. 
Growth monitoring can easily be measured in the majority of healthcare environments, including resource-poor nations. As circulating levels of many micronutrients can be altered by inflammation, this poses a major challenge in low income settings where infections are common. In the ideal world, the next generation biomarkers would be based on functional tests. Prentice provided some examples of such functional indicators.