In 2007 and 2008, the world witnessed a dramatic increase in food prices. The global financial crisis that began in 2008 compounded the burden of high food prices, exacerbating the problems of hunger and malnutrition in developing countries. The tandem food price and economic crises struck amidst the massive, chronic problem of hunger and undernutrition in developing countries. National governments and international actors have taken a variety of steps to mitigate the negative effects of increased food prices on particular groups. The recent abrupt increase in food prices, in tandem with the current global economic crisis, threatens progress already made in these areas, and could inhibit future efforts.
The Institute of Medicine held a workshop, summarized in this volume, to describe the dynamic technological, agricultural, and economic issues contributing to the food price increases of 2007 and 2008 and their impacts on health and nutrition in resource-poor regions. The compounding effects of the current global economic downturn on nutrition motivated additional discussions on these dual crises, their impacts on the nutritional status of vulnerable populations, and opportunities to mitigate their negative nutritional effects.