Aspects of the Brazilian nutritional situation

Adequate nutrition constitutes a fundamental social right, though nutritional problems continue to pose a challenge that needs to be tackled and overcome. Research in tune with our historical moment, capable of assessing the impact of actions and programs and the nutritional situation of Brazilian families, represents an opportunity to contribute to dietary realignment; and can influence decision-making processes geared to the actions of governments, civil society and the productive sector.

This special issue presents the Revista de Ciência e Saúde Coletiva (RCSC) articles that provide an overview of current issues in nutrition in public health. The topics covered here permeate the programmatic guidelines of the National Food and Nutrition Policy (NFNP).

The Bolsa Familia Program (BFP), namely the largest scale cash transfer redistribution undertaking in the world, created to reduce hunger in Brazil, had many social, economic and political implications. The Food and Nutrition Surveillance System is the leading provider of health information for the beneficiary families, since remaining on the program is linked to the fulfillment of certain conditions. The works published here discuss the usage, coverage and effectiveness of the BFP.

In 2011, the Ministry of Health launched the National Plan to Tackle Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), the goal of which is the development and implementation of integrated, sustainable and evidence-based prevention and control of NCD policies. Being overweight and obese, which are public health problems affecting all age groups and income brackets, are considered major risk factors for these conditions, and the resulting sedentary lifestyle, increased use of saturated fats, salt and sugar. Less than a quarter of the population adheres to the recommended intake of fruits and vegetables, which reflects the low quality of the Brazilian diet. In this issue the results of studies on dietary patterns, use of high-fat foods, and the excessive national salt intake are discussed.

In Brazil, despite the declining trend in child malnutrition attributed to the increase in maternal years of study, basic sanitation coverage, health care and family purchasing power, as witnessed by the reduction in stunting in children under five years of age, this outcome persists in children and families from underprivileged social groups in studies presented here.

Another NFNP guideline is evaluated in research on adherence to Healthy Eating, which is linked to the stimulus given to intersectoral actions, in this case between the area of food production, nutrition education and physical activity, in addition to the control of advertising unhealthy foods.

The theme of Food and Nutrition Security (FNS) represented in its various aspects and complexities, confirms the correlation between anthropometric, dietary and social indicators, but raises important issues. The first, on the consumption of quality food, questioned in the article both on the commercialization of street food, which is a timely issue as Brazil prepares to host international sporting events, as well as compared to healthy dietary practices. The second, even more touching and serious, refers to work on Food and Nutrition Insecurity in Alagoas in municipalities with low Human Development Indices.

In recent decades, advances have been made in combating poverty and improving FNS, with compensatory actions in the scenario of regional and social inequalities. New advances will require more answers in the complex process of nutritional transition attacking the determinants of health problems associated with food deficiencies and excesses. For this to occur, enhanced coordination between the health, education and social development sector that meets the new demands of the population is required.

Vania Matos Fonseca
Associate editor

Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    May 2014
ABRASCO - Associação Brasileira de Saúde Coletiva Rio de Janeiro - RJ - Brazil