The new UN report estimated 820 million people do not have enough to eat, from 811 million last year – the third year in a row the number increased. At the same time, no region is exempt from the epidemic of obesity and being overweight.
KJ Rosales
Global hunger, unhealthy diets rise in 2019
Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) - July 17, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — More than 820 million people suffered from hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition worldwide last year, with about one in every nine people globally suffering from hunger, according to the report “United Nations State of Food Insecurity and Nutrition in the World 2019.”

The new UN report estimated 820 million people do not have enough to eat, from 811 million last year – the third year in a row the number increased. At the same time, no region is exempt from the epidemic of obesity and being overweight.

“The number of people who suffer from hunger has slowly increased over the past three years, with about one in every nine people globally suffering from hunger today,” the report said.

The report, launched on Monday on the margins of the High-Level Political Forum, the main UN platform monitoring follow-up on states’ actions on the Sustainable Development Goals, shows that hunger has risen almost 20 percent in Africa’s subregions, areas which also have the greatest prevalence of undernourishment.

In Asia, undernourishment affects 11 percent of the population. Although southern Asia saw great progress over the last five years at almost 15 percent, it is still the subregion with the highest prevalence of undernourishment.

Hunger is increasing in many countries where economic growth is lagging, particularly in middle-income countries and those that rely heavily on international primary commodity trade.

The annual UN report also found that income inequality is rising in many of the countries where hunger is on the rise, making it even more difficult for the poor, vulnerable or marginalized to cope with economic slowdowns and downturns.

This year’s edition of the report takes a broader look at the impact of food insecurity beyond hunger.

It shows that 17.2 percent of the world’s population, or 1.3 billion people, lacked regular access to “nutritious and sufficient food.”

The combination of moderate and severe levels of food insecurity brings the estimate to about two billion people, where in every continent, women are slightly more food insecure than men.

The report said overweight and obesity continue to increase throughout all regions, particularly among school-age children and adults. Economic slowdowns or downturns disproportionally undermine food security and nutrition where inequalities are greater.

“Income inequality increases the likelihood of severe food insecurity, and this effect is 20 percent higher for low-income countries compared with middle-income countries,” the report said.

While progress in bringing down the prevalence of stunting in children and increasing the rate of exclusive breastfeeding is to be commended, the report said the rapid increase in obesity is alarming, and no region or income group is exempt from this problem.

The global number of obese people surpassed the number of undernourished people in 2016. 

“Children facing hunger and food insecurity may have a higher risk of overweight, obesity and non-communicable diseases later in life, and unhealthy diets are now the leading risk factor for deaths worldwide,” the report said.

It said it is imperative to continue addressing the urgent needs of those who are hungry, while at the same time going beyond hunger and ensuring access not only to sufficient food, but also to nutritious foods that constitute a healthy diet. 

The report concluded with guidance on what short- and long-term policies must be undertaken to safeguard food security and nutrition during episodes of economic turmoil or in preparation for them.

GLOBAL HUNGER UNITED NATIONS STATE OF FOOD INSECURITY AND NUTRITION
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