Dr Joao Breda will be one of the plenary speakers at the 13th European Nutrition Conference (FENS 2019) this coming October. Dr Breda is Head of the World Health Organisation's (WHO) European Office for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases based in Moscow, and Russian Federation & Programme Manager for Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity. He will be speaking on the first day of the conference immediately following the opening ceremony, 15 October, on “Drivers across the lifecycle of malnutrition in an obese world - European perspectives.” Ahead of the conference, the Society asked Dr Breda about his experience of the field and thoughts on the double burden of malnutrition.

What first attracted you to the study of nutritional science?

The fact that one could help people improve their health and wellbeing through improved diets.

With nutrition an increasingly multidisciplinary field, how do you feel your MPH and MBA have complemented your PhD in nutritional science throughout the course of your career?

Very much actually because they gave me the understanding of public health and how important it is to achieve results at population level. The MBA helped me solidify my management skills…

Why do you think it is important to consider malnutrition in an obese world?

Because different types and levels of malnutrition - like stunting or micronutrient deficiencies - still coexist with obesity in many instances.

Much of your work focusses on obesity, and strategies to reduce the incidence of obesity by 2025. What is next to help achieve this?

Actually by 2030 in the context of the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). Next steps are to accelerate action around the implementation of best buys in the area of Noncommunicable diseases, including obesity...

What were the main challenges faced during in establishing the WHO European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative?

Mainly the challenges were to find resources to support countries with limited funding and workforces.

As Head of the WHO European Office for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases, do you think the key to reducing the prevalence of NCDs will be taking a global or a local approach?

Think globally, act locally… We should have global commitments and strategies but implementation is really on the ground. For some reason countries that focus on the Municipality level action are the ones with better progress in tackling for example childhood obesity.