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New paper illustrates complexity of food systems data and how to close gaps

How do we support and transform sustainable food systems while maintaining and improving the nutritional status of the population?

This question has become a global public health priority for international organizations, funders, academics, and policymakers. 

Because food systems data are so transdisciplinary and intersect many domains such as health, nutrition, economics, society, and environment, creating cross walks across data sets is a complex conceptual and methods challenge.

Authors of a new paper published in September in Current Development in Nutrition, a publication of the American Society for Nutrition, analyzed the existing links—and the lack of links—among siloed data from various sources.  The paper shows new ways of visualizing the complexity of food systems data, going from spiderwebs to chord diagrams and neural networks.

“Joining data on climate change and agricultural practices with nutrition and health into a common analytical framework is a big challenge.  But this was what we set out to do,” said Adam Drewnowski, co-author of the article and University of Washington professor of epidemiology and nutritional sciences.

“Having access to data from multiple domains is necessary for sustainability research.  We will be hearing much more about metadata and food system ontologies. How to make complex data more user-friendly is the point of our research”, said Dr. Drewnowski.

Read the article:

Visualizing data interoperability for food systems sustainability research—from spider webs to neural networks, authored by Emily M. Jennings-Dobbs, Shavawn M. Forrester, and Adam Drewnowski.

October 11, 2023