Spoke 06

Tackling malnutrition

To restore resilience and defeat malnutrition

Spoke leaderHellas Cena
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Blog postJul 10, 2024

Malnutrition in the elderly: a growing health crisis needing a multidisciplinary approach

Blog postJun 20, 2024

Personalised Nutrition, Sustainable Dietary Practices, Shared Food Protocols: The Future of Malnutrition Research

Blog postJun 5, 2024

Principles of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Deep Learning with examples of applications in the context of nutrition

Blog postMay 13, 2024

The research practice: a chat with PNRR researchers. OnFoods and Spoke 6 at the Sustainable Development Festival

Blog postJan 23, 2024

Extended research partnerships to restore resilience and defeat malnutrition: UniPv's cascade funding call is open

Blog postMay 19, 2023

The Challenge of Malnutrition in Older Adults

Spoke 06 ‘Tackling Malnutrition’ is focused on developing nutritional strategies targeting the most vulnerable categories of the national population (i.e., families in the condition of financial hardship, people affected by pathologies, or older people), thus ensuring adequate nutrition and limiting the onset of malnutrition situations that would end up reducing resilience and aggravating conditions of frailty.

OnFoods targets

To increase the quality of foods and diets
To develop smart innovative technologies for a sustainable food production and consumption
To guarantee food safety and food security at whole population level and in specific vulnerable targets of the population

SDG’s targeted


Flagship research projects

Research projectDAMATO

Dietary habits and gut microbiome as a target of sustainable intervention against obesity

Managed by

Principal investigators

Roberto Berni Canani,Valentina Discepolo,Lutgarda Bozzetto,Antonio Molinaro,Raffaele Capasso

Referred to

Spoke 06
Research projectSENIOR

Sustainable eating patterns to limit malnutrition in older adults

Managed by

Principal investigators

Hellas Cena,Flavia Magri,Antonio Di Sabatino

Referred to

Spoke 06
About Spoke 06

Restoring resilience and defeating malnutrition

“The unprecedented scale of the malnutrition crisis demands an unprecedented response. We must double our efforts to ensure that the most vulnerable children have access to nutritious, safe, and affordable diets - and services for the early prevention, detection and treatment of malnutrition. With so many children’s lives and futures at stake, this is the time to step up our ambition for child nutrition – and we have no time to waste.”  UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell

Malnutrition is one of the greatest challenges of our times. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in three people all over the world is currently facing at least one form of malnutrition, this ranging from undernutrition, which includes wasting, stunting and underweight, deficiencies of vitamins or minerals, overweight and obesity, and resulting in diet-related noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).

Recent progress in reducing hunger and malnutrition in different countries and regions has been severely backtracked due to the global COVID-19 pandemic and other crises, including the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, thus exacerbating the existing difficulties in guaranteeing food security worldwide, especially for the most vulnerable populations.

W.P 6.1

Roadmap of malnutrition in Vulnerable Subjects

WP 6.1 will provide a roadmap for malnutrition in vulnerable subjects through a systematic evaluation of the nutritional status of children affected by obesity and the ageing population at risk of malnutrition and non-communicable diseases (NCDs), together with the investigation of critical issues influencing their health condition, and the creation of a biobank for human-derived biological samples. WP 6.1 will also design an ICT database for integrating data from different sources, including social and environmental lifestyle and their related actual dietary patterns, nutritional status, and biochemical and omics data.

W.P 6.2

Reduce malnutrition: strategies in a sustainable framework

WP 6.2 focuses on reducing malnutrition in target-specific populations through a sustainable, tailored, multidimensional approach based on the interrelations between environment, food, genotype, and phenotype. This entails the analysis of positive and negative interactions between lifestyle, socioeconomic status, clinical condition, psychological distress, medical treatment, and diet for implementing sustainable dietary patterns, validating malnutrition biomarkers, and drafting new sustainable nutritional protocols. Developing an experimental model which examines the impacts of new sustainable bioactive molecules on malnutrition is part of the package activities, as well as creating a personalised web-responsive application for monitoring sustainable target-specific dietary patterns.

W.P 6.3

The gut microbiome is a potential target of intervention against malnutrition

Work Package 6.3 assesses the relationship between the gut microbiome and malnutrition by evaluating the gut microbiome features of children and elderly subjects who are malnourished or have malnutrition-related disorders. 

The research focuses on the effects of sustainable personalised nutrition and microbial-derived products on malnutrition-associated gut microbiome alterations. It aims to develop an algorithm to predict the risk of gut dysbiosis associated with malnutrition and malnutrition-related diseases and investigate the potential of personalised nutrition and microbial-derived products as preventive and therapeutic measures against malnutrition.

W.P 6.4

Restoring resilience

Work Package 6.4 encourages sustainable dietary practices as a nutritional approach to treating malnourished target groups. Its activity entails creating and evaluating prototypes of food, supplements, ingredients, and nutraceuticals to restore resilience in people suffering from malnutrition. 

A user-friendly, tailored web-based application for virtual promotion and target-specific supervision of sustainable eating routines is also implemented, while food policy dissemination and information will be ensured for a wider influence of research outcomes.