Dietary risk factors are among the leading contributors to the global burden of disease. Recognizing the need for nutrition policies and interventions to tackle such risk factors, 2016 to 2025 is the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition. Cochrane has a strong track record of producing systematic reviews of the evidence supporting nutrition policies and interventions. This call to action focuses on how Cochrane could reshape evidence synthesis and use for nutrition policy. The recent establishment of a Cochrane Nutrition Field provides an opportunity to progress this call to action.
Vitamin D is usually synthesised in the skin after sun exposure and may be obtained from dietary sources or supplements. There is a debate about whether sufficient doses can be obtained through diet alone, and a recent Cochrane Review added to the considerable body of evidence on the benefits and harms of vitamin D supplementation. The review investigates whether vitamin D supplementation prevents cancer in adults. The analysis showed no decrease or increase in cancer occurrence, but cancer mortality was lower following vitamin D3 supplementation, although the overall quality of the evidence was low. Vitamin D is a good example of how difficult it can be to adequately analyse and critically appraise scientific data and how probabilities need be openly and sufficiently communicated to optimise shared decision making.
On 10 August 2011, the Department of Nutrition for Health and Development of the World Health Organization (WHO), in collaboration with other departments, launched a new web-based resource tool designed to assist key players worldwide in making informed decisions on the most effective actions in response to the different forms of malnutrition and for improving the health and nutrition of populations globally.