The Faculty of Hospitality, Food and Leisure Management (FHLM) alongside three institution in South East Asia; Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (School of Nutrition) and Seameo Recfon (Indonesia) teamed up with expertise in food and nutrition. The Asian populations increasingly suffer from the dual burden of malnutrition that can include nutrient deficiencies as well as obesity and overweight. Both forms of malnutrition can be traced to poor quality of the habitual diet, especially among the urban poor. Among the key drivers of food choice are economic as well as cultural factors, including shared traditions, individual attitudes, motivations, and beliefs.
Prof. Dr. Jean-Pierre Poulain, Chair of Food Studies at Taylor’s University, has assembled a team of experts located at Taylors University in Malaysia, and also at the University of Toulouse in France. The French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) has accredited the Malaysia team as an International Associate Laboratory on “Food, Cultures and Health”. All of this began in 2013, when Prof. Jean-Pierre developed the Malaysian Food Barometer (MFB). It is a national survery focusing on the social and cultural determinants of food habits. The MFB describes local food habits and food cultures in different dimensions: from actual practices to social representations and beliefs to social norms. Importantly, the MFB collects both qualitative data from interviews and focus groups as well as quantitative data from surveys. The focus is on actual behaviors (what people eat) and on dietary representations and norms, (what people think they would do under a variety of conditions).
One of the goals of LiA-CNRS is to extend the MFB approach to other Asian countries. From there, the Asian Food Barometer was developed. This began the collaboration between FHLM, LiA-CNRS alongside 2 universities from Malaysia and Indonesia. This research contributes to the understanding of the nutritional transition in the rapidly developing and urbanizing countries of South and SE Asia. To conduct this project Taylor’s University has received the support from AJINOMOTO Co Inc. Japan. The main objective of this project is to profile the protein intake by source and for the populations at risk, by amino acids. The focus will be also to analyze the complementation between amino acids of plant proteins. These issues will be explored in 2 countries: Malaysia and Indonesia.