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Books received

Feeding a world population of more than eight billion: A challenge to science. Edited by J. C. Waterlow, D.G. Armstrong, Leslie Fowden, and Ralph Riley. Oxford University Press. New York, 1998. (ISBN 0-19-511312-8) 280 pages, hardcover.

This volume is based on a two-day international symposium held in the United Kingdom in December 1996. The availability of food, as a consequence of advances in agricultural and food sciences, continues to exceed the demands created by unprecedented population growth. However, the world population is predicted to nearly double between 1990 and 2050, and the question is whether the increases in food production can continue to meet the need. This book does not provide a definitive answer to this question, but it does provide fascinating perspectives on the issues involved, including basic land and water resources and constraints, the potential for and limits to the contributions of agricultural and biotechnology research including limits to photosynthesis, disease, and drought resistance, as well as animal sources of food and the food chain for human use. Equally important is the potential for poverty alleviation and improved food security. The book ends with: “Poverty is the lock, productivity is the key and food security is the prize.” It is a valuable source of information for those interested in interactions among food supply, population, agriculture, the environment, and public policy.

Nutrition and women’s cancers. Barbara C. Pence and Dale M. Dunn. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Fla., USA, 1998. (ISBN 0-8493-8562-8) 179 pages, hardcover. US$79.95.

This book attempts to integrate current knowledge of nutrition and the prevention of cancers that occur predominantly in women. It includes not only breast, cervical, endometrial, and ovarian cancers, but also lung and colon cancers, which are seen in a high incidence in women as well as men. Each chapter deals with the general pathology of the disease, genetics, general epidemiological factors, and the important dietary factors that have been identified. Each chapter has a summary and recommendations. National policy issues and current large clinical trials are also covered. The need to integrate knowledge of nutrition and cancer is stressed throughout. The style is readable and the references are extensive. Its strength and its limitation is that it focuses only on the major cancers of women, but these are also the ones on which there is the most nutrition knowledge.

Rapid assessment procedures (RAP): Ethnographic methods to investigate women’s health. Joel Gittelsohn, Pertti J. Pelto, Margaret E. Bentley, Karabi Ghattacharyya, and Joan Jensen. International Nutrition Foundation, Boston, Mass., USA, 1998. (ISBN 1-892468-01-8) 196 pages, paperback. US$15.00 plus $3.00 shipping and handling. (Developing country individuals and institutions: US$ 10.00 plus $5.00 shipping and handling.)

This manual contains guidelines and procedures for carrying out an ethnographic study of women’s health. It provides tools for the generation and analysis of data to facilitate programme development, implementation, evaluation, and improvement by governmental and non-governmental institutions concerned with women’s health. The main body of the manual focuses on a series of data-collection exercises that will permit an organization to develop a sizeable body of data on local perceptions and practices regarding women’s health in the study area. It differs from other ethnographic manuals in its focus on the health problems of women rather than a specific disease or cluster of diseases, it provides detailed suggestions for the appropriate training of data collectors, and it provides for the optional use of specialized computer software packages.

Readings on pro-poor planning through social mobilization in South Asia. Vol 1. The strategic option for poverty eradication. Edited by Penna Wignaraja and Susil Sirivardana. Vikas Publishing House Pvt., Ltd., New Delhi, India. 1998. (ISBN 81-259-0500-6) 377 pages, paperback. SL Rs. 950/=. Available at SAPNA Regional Center, 75 Kynsey Rd., Colombo 8, Sri Lanka. Fax: 94-1-688676.

This book is an innovative state of the art on poverty eradication with social mobilization as the core methodology. Such a primer does not exist today for South Asian readers. The book is a valuable addition to training resources.

WHO global database on child growth and malnutrition. Compiled by M. de Onis and M. Blössner. World Health Organization, Geneva, 1997. 710 pages, paperback. 50-/US $45.00. In developing, countries 35-.

This book presents and interprets the vast amount of data contained in the World Health Organization Global Database on Child Growth and Malnutrition. The data, which indicate the growth and nutritional status of children under the age of five, have been collected by WHO since 1986 as part of its efforts to monitor and identify those groups in need of priority interventions.

Information is derived from population-based nutritional surveys of representative samples collected and assessed according to standardized procedures. The database currently reflects more than 1,700 nutritional studies, and covers 84% of the world’s total population of children under five years of age and 95% of this age group living in the developing world.

The book has two parts. Part one explains the importance of global nutritional surveillance and describes the origins and development of the database. Against this background, subsequent chapters summarize global, regional, and national situations and trends for key indicators of child growth and nutritional status. Numerous tables and selected maps are used to indicate the country- specific prevalence and geographical distribution of underweight, stunting, wasting, and overweight for boys, girls, and the two sexes combined in developing and developed countries; to classify countries according to very high, high, medium, and low prevalence for each indicator; and to estimate global and regional trends over time. While noting important achievements in overcoming malnutrition among those under five years of age, the analysis concludes that global progress is entirely inadequate to reach the goal, set for the year 2000, of a 50% reduction in 1990 prevalence levels of moderate and severe malnutrition. Part one ends with chapters describing the methods used in data collection and their standardized presentation, and offering guidance in the interpretation of the statistical tables.

Part two contains over 600 pages of data tables and references. Data on the nutritional status of children under five years old in 173 countries are presented, disaggregated by rural and urban areas, by regions, and by sex and age group. Survey data indicate the percentage of children wasted, stunted, and under- and overweight. Each country data table is followed by the list of data sources and additional references to the country’s child growth patterns.

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