Evaluating and bringing to scale alternative food networks to address diabetes mellitus and hypertension in Ecuador
In Ecuador, rural people, and particularly rural Indigenous people, are disproportionately affected by nutrient inadequacies, obesity, and overweight. This double burden of malnutrition magnifies their risk of developing diet-related chronic diseases such as diabetes mellitus and hypertension.
In parallel, many rural Indigenous people in Ecuador have organized around alternative food networks, such as farmers’ markets, to seek more sustainable livelihoods. Alternative food networks promote food literacy (understanding the impact of food choices on one’s health, the environment, and the economy); favour the consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; and put income into women’s hands. These benefits have been associated with better nutrition and a reduced risk of diet-related chronic disease.
This project aims to evaluate specific alternative food network approaches to measure their contribution to diabetes and hypertension prevention. The research will leverage the most effective approaches for a stronger and broader positive impact.
Findings will be shared among an estimated 132 Ecuadorian alternative food networks, positioning them to streamline research findings into practice. Overall, the project is expected to provide strategic and practical guidance for integrating health-sensitive attributes into the regular practices of alternative food networks as they continue to multiply and evolve in Ecuador and elsewhere.