Daniel Salvadori: “Global malnutrition is a deeply complex issue”

Global malnutrition is a deeply complex issue, and it will take continued creative thinking and powerful multi-sectoral partnership to make sustainable progress. Business, governments and civil society organizations can help address the issue of malnutrition by partnering to educate communities about malnutrition and expand access to screenings and nutrition intervention. In many parts of the […]

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Global malnutrition is a deeply complex issue, and it will take continued creative thinking and powerful multi-sectoral partnership to make sustainable progress. Business, governments and civil society organizations can help address the issue of malnutrition by partnering to educate communities about malnutrition and expand access to screenings and nutrition intervention.


In many parts of the United States, there is a crisis caused by people having limited access to healthy & affordable food options. This in turn is creating a host of health and social problems. What exactly is a food desert? What causes a food desert? What are the secondary and tertiary problems that are created by a food desert? How can this problem be solved? Who are the leaders helping to address this crisis?

In this interview series, called “Food Deserts: How We Are Helping To Address The Problem of People Having Limited Access to Healthy & Affordable Food Options” we are talking to business leaders and non-profit leaders who can share the initiatives they are leading to address and solve the problem of food deserts.

As a part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Daniel Salvadori.

Daniel Salvadori is Abbott’s Executive Vice President, Nutritional Products. He assumed this role in October 2017. Previously, Daniel served as Abbott’s Senior Vice President, Established Pharmaceuticals, Latin America. Prior to joining Abbott, Daniel was Chief Executive Officer, LATAM for CFR Pharmaceuticals. Daniel earned his master’s degree in business administration from the Harvard Business School, Boston, Massachusetts. He is fluent in English, Spanish, French and Italian.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

For me, it’s seeing the impact of Abbott’s products on my family and friends. A few years back, our pediatrician told us that our daughter was falling behind the curve for growth and recommended she start drinking Pediasure, an Abbott product to help kids catch up in growth. A month later I started working for Abbott. It gave me such pride seeing firsthand how my own family had benefitted from my company’s nutrition products. Since then, I’ve had many opportunities to hear family and friends talk about the impact Abbott’s products have had on their families — nourishing a baby with food allergies, improving a child’s growth, or helping someone regain strength after an illness.

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that? Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success as a leader?

I’ve learned that as we take on more responsibility as leaders, it’s important to realize that you can’t know everything. You have to be able to zoom in and zoom out, understand when to get into the details and when it’s OK to have a high-level view. It’s important to understand what matters, when, and to trust the people working around you.

As a leader in a global organization, it’s important to interact with people from different countries, cultures and backgrounds as often as you can. My experience has taught me that only then can you go on to have meaningful interactions and communicate in an effective way with customers.

I believe the role of leaders is to help solve problems and motivate people. As leaders, our work becomes more about focusing on how you empower and support your team to identify an issue, find a solution and work together toward common goals.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Days go by slowly, but years go by quickly. Make sure those years aren’t wasted — take care of your health and have fun.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about Food Deserts. I know this is intuitive to you, but it will be helpful to expressly articulate this for our readers. Can you please tell us what exactly a food desert is? Does it mean there are places in the US where you can’t buy food? Can you help explain a few of the social consequences that arise from food deserts? What are the secondary and tertiary problems that are created by a food desert? Where did this crisis come from? Can you briefly explain to our readers what brought us to this place?

Food deserts — areas that have little or no access to affordable and nutritious foods — can lead to malnutrition and poor health.

In fact, eighty to ninety percent of the factors contributing to poor health outcomes that can also be changed are driven by conditions other than medical care. Known as social determinants of health (SDOH) these include healthcare, environmental, social and community, economic, and education factors.

Abbott has long partnered with Feeding America and with other global non-profit organizations to help address the issue of food insecurity across the U.S. and internationally. Food insecurity is a key driver of global malnutrition, which we are committed to reducing.

Malnutrition, which affects one in three people globally, occurs when people don’t receive the right nutrients in the right amounts. It can manifest in several ways, including stunting, wasting, underweight, overweight, or obesity. We know that nutrition plays an important role in both preventing and managing health conditions. And, we play a role in building awareness for the importance of good nutrition and to identify and treat malnutrition — which can be preventable with effective screening, assessment, diagnosis and intervention programs.

Can you describe to our readers how your work is making an impact to address this crisis? Can you share some of the initiatives you are leading to help correct this issue?

Abbott is committed to fighting the impact of malnutrition and we have extensive experience working with global partners to create solutions to support the early identification, intervention and education that leads to healthier communities.

Abbott Nutrition Health Institute (ANHI) provides nutrition education across the lifecycle and has numerous resources to help address malnutrition around the world. Every year, ANHI’s Global Growth Summit brings together the world’s top experts to share best practices and the latest trends in nutrition as part of a collaborative effort to address challenges in childhood growth and nutrition.

Research is also something that Abbott puts a great deal of emphasis on because it plays a critical role allowing us to better understand the impact of nutrition on health outcomes. Abbott’s SHIELD Study, conducted in partnership with Changi General Hospital (CGH) and SingHealth Polyclinics (SHP) in Singapore, evaluated the association between nutrition and health outcomes in the elderly. The results of this study showed that improved nutritional intake reduced the risk of malnutrition by nearly three times and promoted better health.

Can you share something about your work that makes you most proud? Is there a particular story or incident that you found most uplifting?

There is so much that energizes me about the work we do and the impact we can have. Take Abbott’s 2030 Sustainability Plan, for example. This plan focuses on driving access and affordability into our life-changing products and technologies, building collaborative partnerships to remove barriers and expanding access to health innovations that will improve the lives of more than 3 billion people by 2030.

Partnerships are critical to realizing that plan. Among one of our most uplifting collaborations is the creation and global distribution of the MUAC z-score tape, a simple and inexpensive paper-based tool that helps signal the risk for malnutrition. This innovative and effective screening tool was born out of a unique and strategic partnership between Abbott, Children’s Mercy Kansas City, Hallmark and Children International to expand access to screenings. To date, more than 4,500 clinicians have been trained to use this tool and more than 18,000 tapes have been distributed around the world.

In your opinion, what should other business and civic leaders do to further address these problems? Can you please share your “5 Things That Need To Be Done To Address The Problem of People Having Limited Access to Healthy & Affordable Food Options”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

Global malnutrition is a deeply complex issue, and it will take continued creative thinking and powerful multi-sectoral partnership to make sustainable progress. Business, governments and civil society organizations can help address the issue of malnutrition by partnering to educate communities about malnutrition and expand access to screenings and nutrition intervention.

Are there other leaders or organizations who have done good work to address food deserts? Can you tell us what they have done? What specifically impresses you about their work? Perhaps we can reach out to them to include them in this series.

In addition to our partnership with Feeding America, we’re also proud to work with Partners In Health (PIH). This work is fighting malnutrition in Haiti by building local capacity and creating long-term, impactful change that also stimulates the country’s economy. With the close involvement of more than 50 of our specialists in science, manufacturing, engineering and other areas, we worked alongside PIH and their sister organization, Zanmi Lasante, to build and equip an 18,000 square foot nutrition production facility and train local staff in central Haiti. The facility produces a highly nutritious, peanut-based treatment for severely malnourished children called Nourimanba, which is distributed for free to children in PIH’s hospitals and clinics across rural Haiti.

What could be done to solve this issue?

We are interested in continuing to be part of conversations, learning about the role we can play in helping to address malnutrition around the world.

For the past several years, we’ve been honored to support the Malnutrition Quality Improvement Initiative (MQII), a project with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and Avalere Health. The goal of this project is to develop tools and measures which can be used by hospitals to screen, assess, diagnose and develop care plans for malnourished patients. We know that malnutrition can be underdiagnosed, and in some cases, the only time a malnourished patient interacts with the health care system is at the hospital. We support broad uptake and use of tools like the MQII to expand the identification and treatment of people in the community.

In addition, Abbott is committed to our 2030 Sustainability Plan, which is designed to create access and affordability to healthcare, including working to solve for the issues that lead to malnutrition.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Creating a world where all people have access to good nutrition is something that everyone can be part of and is good for the greater society. Imagine what the world could look like if everyone understood the importance of good nutrition at all ages, had access to early malnutrition screening, and access to healthy, nutritious foods on a regular basis. These are the key ingredients necessary to support lifelong health.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Abbott has a vast amount of resources and nutrition information available on our website: https://www.nutritionnews.abbott/. You can also follow Abbott on Twitter at @AbbottNews.

This was very meaningful, thank you so much, and we wish you only continued success.

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