American Univesity of Beirut

First national investigation of food insecurity among Lebanese households with children by Dr. Lamis Jomaa

Food insecurity is a major public health challenge in Lebanon, which has the highest global per capita refugee concentration and its accompanying prolonged political and economic challenges. These problems are aggravated by the lack of national studies or strategies focused on assessment and monitoring of food insecurity and the limited focus on the Lebanese host communities in the post- Syrian refugee crisis. Dr. Lamis Jomaa, a member of the FAFS Food Security Program, is an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences (NFSC) and Co-Director of the Refugee Health Program, part of the Global Health Institute (GHI). Jomaa’s research on community nutrition helps address this burden through the assessment of food and nutrition security of vulnerable population groups, including women and children from refugee and impoverished host communities.

Her research includes exploring the dietary intake and nutritional status of youth and young adults and evaluation of the effectiveness of community-based nutrition interventions designed to help alleviate the risk of food insecurity, obesity, and malnutrition. Jomaa emphasizes the importance of estimating the prevalence, determinants, and health consequences of food insecurity among the refugee and host populations in Lebanon and the MENA region. Her work contributes to the evidence needed for scientifically-sound strategies and programs to help address the root causes of food insecurity and increase the resilience of the most vulnerable households and communities. 

Jomaa led the efforts of a diverse team of experts and field workers specializing in nutritional sciences, food security, and nutritional epidemiology to analyze findings from the first national study exploring the prevalence and correlations of food insecurity in Lebanese households. The work was funded, primarily, by the Lebanese National Council for Scientific Research and AUB’s University Research Board. The cross-sectional survey, conducted in 2014-2015, included a nationally representative sample of 1200 Lebanese mother-child dyads targeting households with children aged 4-18 years; the impact of household food insecurity on the nutritional outcomes of the children and​ their mothers was studied. Findings were presented at international scientific conferences and published in the Public Health Nutrition journal (December 2018).

Dr. Jomaa participated at the 12th Annual Meeting of the New Champions in Tianjin, People’s Republic of China (September 2018), contributing to the dialogue on the complex issues of migration and food insecurity. She joined the Young Scientists Community of the World Economic Forum, where 2,000 industry leaders, chief executives of top-ranked multinationals, heads of state/government and ministers recognized her as a top young scientist (under the age of 40) who contributes to the advancement of science, engineering and technology (article).

Jomaa notes that, “food insecurity is a serious global and regional challenge that requires today, more than ever, a multi-disciplinary and multi-sectoral approach to address, not only the root causes and the economic and health implications of food insecurity, but devise evidence-based, cost-effective policies and strategies to ensure resilient, sustainable, and dignified livelihoods for the most vulnerable and marginalized individuals and communities.”

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