The Balance Between Future Obesity and Malnutrition with Climate Change: India

Team Members: 
David Lobell, Jeremy Goldhaber-Fiebert, Walter P. Falcon, Uma Chandra Mouli Natchu, Bata Rajaratnam

Developing countries will face the considerable and simultaneous challenges of over- and under-nutrition in the next decades. In India, for example, increases in obesity-related diseases are predicted to accelerate even as large segments of the population remain undernourished and at risk for malnutrition-related conditions like diarrheal illnesses. At the same time, climate change and groundwater depletion threaten to substantially alter past trends in food availability, with likely ramifications for India's future nutritional landscape, rural-urban migration patterns, and disease burdens. Even more concerning than upward trends in average temperatures is the increase of volatility in which extreme temperatures and weather threaten massive crop failure for Indian States in which they occur. Although climate and health are linked, policies typically focus separately on over and under-nutrition and do not consider climate change, particularly the threat of increased volatility. The goal of this project is to develop a framework to evaluate nutrition-related health policies that explicitly considers how climate change may alter the expected balance of over- and under-nutrition in the future. We aim to: 1) develop climate and agricultural production models to predict food availability and consumption in India, accounting for future climate change at a State level and at an annual time resolution; 2) extend nutrition and health models to cover malnutrition and obesity-related health in urban and rural India that are linked to models in Aim 1 and include rural-urban migration; 3) begin work on policy analyses with local stake holders to identify promising combinations of climate, agriculture, and health policies using the combined model.

View project details on the Center on Food Security and the Environment website.

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