Almost one in nine people worldwide are hungry, according to a United Nations report released on Monday, with the coronavirus pandemic already exacerbating a worsening trend this year.
Economic downturns and climate shocks are causing more people to go hungry, while nutritious food remains too expensive for many, contributing not only to undernourishment, but to increasing obesity rates among adults and children. children.
“After decades of long decline, the number of hungry people has slowly increased since 2014,” said the annual report on the state of food security and nutrition in the world.
Not only did people need enough food, but nutritious food, the study said, citing the “costly health and environmental consequences” of substandard diets.
Nearly 690 million people, or 8.9% of the world‘s population, are hungry, the UN found.
That number increased by 10 million people in a single year until 2019, and by 60 million in the past five years, according to the study, which said that the eradication of hunger by 2030 – a target set five years ago – would be impossible if trends continue.
By 2030, more than 890 million people could be affected by hunger, or 9.8% of the world‘s population, he estimated.
Five UN agencies are co-sponsors of the report: the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) , the World Food Program (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Last year, the report estimated that more than 820 million people were hungry, but estimates have been recalculated following revised data from China for previous years.
More undernourished people
By measuring both moderate and severe food insecurity in 2019, the number rises from 690 million to 2 billion people without “regular access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food”.
The COVID-19 pandemic, which has hit countries with widespread poverty hard, could cause an additional 83-132 million people to go hungry this year, the report said.
Global trends had already worsened before the coronavirus, according to the report.
About a quarter of Africa’s population could go hungry by 2030, up from 19.1% today, already twice the world average.
In Asia, the number of hungry people has decreased by 8 million people since 2015, although the continent is still home to more than half of the world‘s undernourished.
Trends in Latin America and the Caribbean are deteriorating, with 9 million more hungry last year than in 2015.
“A key reason why millions of people around the world suffer from hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition because they cannot afford the cost of healthy food,” the report found.
In all regions, obesity among adults is on the rise, with a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables and protein-rich foods inaccessible to some 3 billion people.
Over 57% of people in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia cannot afford healthy food.
Low-income countries depend on starchy staples like grains and tubers which can cost 60% less than healthy diets, but lack the necessary protein and essential vitamins and minerals to reduce infections and prevent disease.
The report reveals that 21.3% of children under five, or 144 million, have been stunted due to malnutrition, most in Africa or Asia.
Another 6.9 percent were “wasted” with nutritional imbalances, while 5.6 percent were overweight.
Among overweight children, 45% come from Asia and 24% from Africa, which highlights how malnutrition takes the form of undernutrition and obesity.
Current trends in food consumption are expected to drive health costs in excess of $ 1.3 trillion annually by 2030.
But healthier diets could reduce these costs by up to 97%, the report said, citing a vegetarian diet with associated health costs of less than $ 100 million.
Costs are also associated with greenhouse gas emissions caused by the current food production system, which could also be reduced by alternative diets.
While recognizing that high prices for healthy food are due to a variety of factors ranging from insufficient diversification and inadequate food storage to national subsidies that promote staples, the report called for an “urgent rebalancing of agricultural policies and incentives. “
(With the exception of the title, this story was not edited by GalacticGaming staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)