Metric For Aquaculture Nutritional Impact for Girls

Aquaculture is among the fastest growing food production sectors in many Low and Medium Income Countries (LMIC) with aquatic eco-zones, and yet the specific impact on nutrition and livelihood in local communities where commercial and/or export-orientated aquaculture activities are developed, is largely unknown.

The agro-ecological dynamic is complex in a coastal-estuarine zone where the aquatic environment range from marine to freshwater, with seasonal and annual fluctuations in freshwater supply, creating a variable salinity gradient which impact on aquatic food production, and on food production more generally. The local communities in these dynamic aquatic eco-zones are vulnerable to poverty and poor health and nutrition, while these ecosystems also produce highly valuable and nutritious aquatic foods. Policies addressing the specific challenges of risk management of these communities is limited by the sectoral separation of aquatic food production – the fisheries and aquaculture sector - and health, means there is a disconnect between professionals on all levels responsible for fisheries and aquaculture, and those tasked to support public health and nutrition initiatives.

The aim of the project is to develop an integrated metric for the impact of access to aquatic foods on health and nutrition – the Aquatic Food for Health and Nutrition (AQN) that will inform better, more integrated policy and practice in the development of farmed aquatic systems. The objectives are (i) to develop the metric in southwest Bangladesh from previously collected data complemented by supplementary primary data collection, and validate it using data from Cambodia; (ii) evaluate and validate the metric to determine its capability to adequately assess the linkages between aquatic agroecosystem and the well-being and nutritional status of vulnerable individuals, with adolescent girls as focal group; iii) integrating perceptions and experience of local practitioners and stakeholders with measured indicators.

Project Partners

The project consortium is made up of a highly interdisciplinary team of scientists from Europe and Asia.

The project is funded through the Immana initiative by the following bodies:

Our project partners in the Europe are the University of Stirling (project lead), The Rowett Institute (University of Aberdeen), Institute of Health and Wellbeing (University of Glasgow), and the Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports (University of Copenhagen).

Rowett Institute, University of Aberdeen

For over 100 years, the Rowett Institute has carried out research aimed to help solve the nutritional problems of the age. Initially staff at the Institute concentrated on the diseases of malnutrition, identifying links between nutritional insufficiencies and disease processes. By the 1950’s, our emphasis shifted to examining health and nutrition in animals of agricultural importance, with a view to maximising production efficiency. Along the way, we also identified the importance of many micronutrients in the diet and identified protein metabolism pathways. Much of the current research is sponsored by the Scottish Government and aims to address the big issues of our time, including food inequalities, food security and obesity, as well as the sustainable development of the food industry.

Dr. Baukje de Roos

Baukje is currently the Deputy Director of the Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health, and also leading the University of Aberdeen Theme 'Pathways to a Healthy Life', one of the four multidisciplinary Themes initiated as part of the University’s strategic plan to address key global challenges. Baukje is also the CEO of the European Nutrigenomics Organisation (NuGO), an Association of Universities, Research Institutes and Food Industries focusing on jointly developing the research area of nutrigenomics, molecular nutrition and personalised nutrition.

Institute of Health and Wellbeing

The Institute of Health and Wellbeing spans the University's College of Social Sciences and College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences. The institute aims at improving population health and wellbeing and reduce inequalities in health. The Institute of Health and Wellbeing strives to achieve a global impact in terms of both health and wellbeing improvement and reductions in inequalities. In order to realise this goal, the institute share knowledge through collaborations and extended networks with academics and other partners in 73 countries across the world. HEHTA covers a broad set of activities relating to the appraisal of health service interventions including policies, procedures, devices, drugs and diagnostics. HEHTA’s research is divided into seven programmatic research themes:

  • Economic evaluation alongside clinical trials 
  • Evidence synthesis
  • Economics of population health 
  • Statistical analysis of linked health data 
  • Decision analytic modelling and simulation for evaluation in health 
  • Incorporating perspectives and experiences and
  • Global Health Technology Assessment.

Ms Eleanor Grieve

Eleanor holds a BA (Hons) in Economics and German from the University of Stirling, a postgraduate diploma in Financial Economics from SOAS, University of London and a Master of Public Health (Merit) from the University of Glasgow. Before joining as a Research Assistant at Glasgow University in September 2010, she previously held positions with various non-governmental organisations working in international development.  Eleanor currently works on projects assisting on health economic evaluations of public health interventions. She maintains her interest in international development by continuing to do consultancy work in this field, and was also based part-time at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Department of Global Health and Development as a Research Fellow in Health Economics during 2013/14.

First Phase

The first phase will be a period of field work which will identify a sample set of 120 adolescent females of above 20 years old, including as many pregnant individuals as possible. Survey work will be conducted which will include socio-economic and demographic data combined with dietary and health status data.

Second Phase

The second phase will be consist of Additional data on community perception. Focus groups will be used to collect information on how target communities view and value attributes of well-being measure and norms related to diet, weight, status and standards of living. 

Third Phase

The third phase is a validation phase, applying the metric to secondary data from other settings in Bangladesh and a dataset from Cambodia consisting of 1500 adolescent females and 1500 girls. The result from the validation period will be used to refine the metric towards the end of the project period.

Metric Design

In the initial phase of the project, metrics will be drafted in consultation between the consortium partners, based on available secondary data. The preliminary metrics will be reviewed during workshops in the early months. The primary data collection will cover food consumption, health indicators, nutrition indicators  and broader well-being indicators,  collected from households in which pregnant adolescent females are resident, in the sites from which a secondary dataset is already available. Health outcomes of adolescent mothers and children will be monitored postnatal for 6 months. A refined AQN metric based on the primary field survey will be re-evaluated with practitioners and stakeholders at a second workshop in year 2. The metric will be applied to a secondary data set available from Cambodia as a validation step, before the final metric will be presented at a final seminar.

The metric will utilise primary and secondary social and economic data across aquatic food supply chains i.e. including production, governance and the health and nutrition status of consumers in Bangladesh. A model based on the relationships between food production/access/intake and nutritional outcomes of interest for adolescent girls (nutritional status, reproductive outcomes and birth outcomes) will be built. Results will identify individuals and households at increased risk of poorer outcomes. This will generate an aggregate score combining nutritional and health status indicators as well as measures of access to, and intake of, aquatic foods. A strategy for selecting the important variables in the final model will also incorporate a ‘quality review’ of available secondary data and a literature review of the impact of nutritional status, micronutrients and disease risk reduction linked to longer term health outcomes. Results will be validated against secondary data from Cambodia and used to further refine selection measure(s) of model performance or predictive accuracy.