Paramount among the challenges to our ability to address the role of food and nutrition in health promotion and disease prevention is how to design and implement context-specific interventions and guidance. The Integration to Effective Implementation (I-to-I) concept is intended to address the complexities of the global health context through engagement of the continuum of stakeholders involved in the food and nutrition enterprise. The 2014 Micronutrient Forum (MNF) Global Conference held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in June 2014 offered the opportunity to apply the I-to-I approach with the use of current concerns about the safety and effectiveness of interventions to prevent and treat iron deficiency (ID) as a case study.
ID is associated with a range of adverse outcomes, especially in pregnant and nonpregnant women, infants, and primary school-age children. Strategies to combat ID include iron supplementation, multiple micronutrient powders, and food-based interventions to enhance dietary iron intake. Recent reports indicate potential increased adverse risks when iron is provided in areas with high infection burdens (e.g., malaria). This paradox has weakened iron intervention programs. Furthermore, the selection and interpretation of available biomarkers for assessing iron nutrition have been found to be compromised by the inflammatory process. These issues highlight the need for a comprehensive approach that considers basic biology, assessment, interventions, and how these can be translated into appropriate programs and policies. The application of the I-to-I with the use of the MNF offered an opportunity to explore how that might be achieved.