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This book contains the background papers and working group reports presented at the first scientific meeting of the International Dietary Energy Consultancy Group (IDECG), which took place at the Instituto de Nutricion de Centro America y Panama (INCAP) in Guatemala City from August 3 to 7, 1987.

IDECG was founded in Geneva on September 3, 1986, by 15 scientists interested in human energy metabolism, on the joint initiative of the United Nations University (UNU) and the International Union of Nutritional Sciences (IUNS).

The objectives of IDECG, as defined at the Geneva meeting, are:

1. The compilation and interpretation of research data on consequences of deficiency, change, or excess of dietary energy.

2. The identification of related research needs and priorities, and the promotion of needed research.

3. The publication of policy statements and other information on the significance of chronic deficiencies and excesses of dietary energy.

4. The identification and promotion of appropriate and practical means of corrective action.

In order to meet these objectives, IDECG seeks to bring together scientists engaged in relevant research with representatives of international organizations concerned with the problem. It also seeks to involve in its work foundations and bilateral organizations, and governments interested in relevant research and policy actions. It develops summaries and policy recommendations identifies critical gaps in knowledge, promotes needed research, seeks to expand awareness of problems associated with energy deficiency, imbalance and excess, and proposes specific action programs.

The participants at the Geneva meeting decided that IDECG should, initially, focus on physiological, behavioral, social and economic consequences of chronic energy deficiency, and the significance of environmentally-induced small stature. An executive committee, consisting of N.S. Scrimshaw (UNU), J.G.A.J. Hautvast (IUNS) and B. Schürch (executive secretary of IDECG), in collaboration with other participants in the foundation meeting, planned the first scientific meeting of IDECG in Guatemala, at which these issues were dealt with.

The IDECG meeting in Guatemala had three main parts. It began with the presentation of eight commissioned background papers which are contained in this volume. This information was supplemented by reports on ongoing or recently completed studies in India (J.V.G.A. Durnin and P.S. Shetty), Benin (J.M.A. van Raaij), Ethiopia (A. Ferro-Luzzi), The Gambia (A. Prentice), Colombia (J.C. Reina), Guatemala (M. Immink and B. Torún), The Philippines (P. de Guzman and L. Adair), Indonesia (M.A. Husaini), Egypt (O. Galal), and Mexico (G. Pelto and L. Allen). On the last two days, the participants worked in three groups preparing reports on available knowledge, policy implications and needed research on how chronic energy deficiency can affect pregnancy, lactation and childhood; work capacity and work performance; and social and economic development. A fourth working group dealt with the structure, function and financing of IDECG.

A Steering Committee, consisting of a representative of UNU as chairperson, the secretary-general of IUNS, and the executive secretary of IDECG, will be responsible for IDECG's future policies. This Steering Committee will be guided by a Scientific Group, consisting of nine scientists appointed by the Rector of UNU for staggered three-year terms, a representative of FAO, WHO, UNICEF, and the World Bank.

We should like to thank Drs. Luis Octavio Angel, Maarten D.C. Immink and Benjamin Torún and their staff for making it possible to hold this first scientific IDECG meeting at INCAP, Drs. C.V.C. Barba, S. Grantham-McGregor and E. Jéquier for editorial review of this book, Mr. Giles Allen and Mrs. Ann-Marie Favre for proofreading, and Mrs. Nelleke Luong-van-My for technical assistance.

Beat Schürch
Nevin S. Scrimshaw

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