Indonesia, as a major population in the Asia Pacific region, threatened with food and health insecurity through climate change and rapid economic development, faces the challenge to build capacity among its science-based food and health professionals and institutions. The nutrition research agenda is now being more actively set within the region, rather than by external imposition. A series of papers emanating from a new generation of public health and clinical nutrition scientists is reported in this issue of APJCN. It draws attention to the importance of food patterns and background culture as contributors to the failure of the nutrient rather than a food, food system and socio-ecological approach to solve the region's intransigent nutritionally-related health problems. New understandings of human eco-social biology are providing opportunities to accelerate the resolution of these problems. The challenge is to transform the food-health construct from one which is not sufficiently concerned about the precarious state of ecologically dysfunctional health and its nutrient market drivers to one which strives for more sustainable and affordable solutions. The present reports address a range of options to these ends.