The German parliament has decided that a new department will be set up to conduct research on child nutrition, and this new department will be based at the Max Rubner-Institut in Karlsruhe
, Federal Minister of Food, Christian Schmidt, has announced. By integrating it in the Federal Research Institute for Nutrition and Food, it will be possible to exploit the institute’s existing expertise to the full and take account of the special nutritional needs of children
Nobody doubts how important healthy eating is, especially for children. Nevertheless, children and young people frequently do not feature in studies. Procedures used in research with adults are often simply not transferable to children; other methods are needed to achieve accurate results. When investigating children’s nutritional requirements, for example, it often happens that the results of adult studies are merely adjusted to children’s lower weight levels and can thus only be used as estimated values. But particularly in this field, major strides have been made in analytics. Just a single drop of blood will often suffice to collect data using modern analytical techniques, a procedure that is not too demanding for children.
The impact of healthy or unhealthy eating usually only reveals itself in the long term and cannot be observed in short-term studies. Only in cases of drastically poor nutrition is it easy to find direct connections between nutrition and state of health, and yet the consequences of poor nutrition in childhood can be severe for adults. This is why it is particularly important to keep a special scientific eye on children’s development and only make decisions about measures to be taken on a robust knowledge base.
To improve and extend this knowledge base will be the task of the new Department of Child Nutrition at the Max Rubner-Institut. MRI has many years’ experience in conducting human studies at its own study centre and can draw, on the one hand, on the expertise in its product-related food departments in assessing special “children’s food”, for example, and on the other, on the know-how of the Department of Nutritional Behaviour in investigating social impacts.