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close this bookProtein-Energy Requirements of Developing Countries: Evaluation of New Data (UNU, 1981, 268 p.)
View the documentAcknowledgements
View the documentForeword
Open this folder and view contentsIntroduction
Open this folder and view contentsDiscussions and recommendations of the task forces
Open this folder and view contentsResearch papers: Protein requirements-adults, standard protocols
Open this folder and view contentsProtein requirements-adults, other protocols
Open this folder and view contentsObligatory nitrogen losses-adults
Open this folder and view contentsNitrogen absorption-adults
Open this folder and view contentsObligatory and integumental nitrogen losses - children
Open this folder and view contentsProtein requirements-children
Open this folder and view contentsProtein-energy requirements-children
Open this folder and view contentsProtein-energy requirements-adults
View the documentList of participants


A working group convened by the United Nations University in San Jose, Costa Rica, in February 1977 discussed the issues surrounding protein energy under conditions prevailing in developing countries, summarized current knowledge, and indicated priority research needs. Its report was published in 1979 as a supplement to the Food and Nutrition Bulletin, but by that time the UN University had established an extensive research network and was already supporting many of the studies recommended.

The present report is the result of a workshop on protein-energy requirements convened in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, 19-23 May 1981, by Committee l/7 of the International Union of Nutritional Sciences (IUNS) under the chairmanship of Dr. Benjamin Torhe purpose of the workshop was to receive and review the first round reports of the UNU-sponsored research, evaluate the significance of the data presented, and make recommendations for the additional research most urgently required for an in-depth review of international recommendations for protein-energy requirements planned by the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Health Organization, and the UN University for 5-17 October 1981 in Rome. Independent of the UNU research effort but in close co-ordination with it, the FAO and WHO jointly sponsored research in three developing countries-Guatemala, Thailand, and India- utilizing funds received from the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA); some of the results of these studies are also presented and discussed.

The format of the workshop consisted of data presentations by the co-operating investigators, which are included in this report in the form of short papers. Protein requirements data from research groups in Berkeley, California; Cambridge, Massachusetts; Tokushima, Japan; and Taipei, Taiwan; and data from China on energy expenditures associated with various kinds of activity are also presented. These discussions and presentations of data are followed by a comparative tabulation and analysis of the nitrogen-balance data reported.

Following these plenary discussions, four working groups were established to answer a series of critical questions and to identify urgent research needs concerning (a) protein requirements for adults, (b) energy requirements for adults and the relationship of protein and energy, (c) protein requirements for children, and (d) energy requirements for children and the relationship of protein and energy. Each of the working groups' reports attempts to answer the questions posed in the light of the newly available data and indicates further research needs.

As indicated, this report describes research carried out on the basis of recommendations of the Costa Rica workshop referred to above to determine the amounts of protein in usual diets required for nitrogen balance and, in the case of children, for growth as well, as measured by short-term, multi-level nitrogen-balance studies. The Cambridge workshop, in turns, recommended not only obtaining additional data of this type but also other types of studies. One of these is to administer the amount of protein considered to represent the mean plus two standard deviations of intercept data in a large enough number of subjects to test the hypothesis that this is sufficient for nearly all other populations. The second type of additional study recommended is the administration of this level of protein intake to a small number of subjects for periods as long as two to three months. Both types of studies are being supported by the UN University, and the results will be made available in a workshop to be held in advance of the October 1981 FAO/WHO/UNU Consultative Group Meeting on Protein-Energy Requirements.

Comments, criticisms, and additional data relevant to the issues raised in this report should be addressed to the UNU World Hunger Programme, Cambridge office, 20A-201, MIT, Cambridge, Mass. 02139, USA, so that they can be taken into account in the planned future international meetings concerned with protein-energy requirements.

Nevin S. Scrimshaw
Senior Adviser
World Hunger Programme
The United Nations University