World hunger is still not going down after three years and obesity is still growing – UN report

TEHRAN, Jul. 16 (MNA) – An estimated 820 million people did not have enough to eat in 2018, up from 811 million in the previous year, which is the third year of increase in a row, says a new edition of the annual The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report released on Monday.

The pace of progress in halving the number of children who are stunted and in reducing the number of babies born with low birth weight is too slow, according to the report.

At the same time, adding to these challenges, overweight and obesity continue to increase in all regions, particularly among school-age children and adults.

The chances of being food insecure are higher for women than men in every continent, with the largest gap in Latin America.

"Our actions to tackle these troubling trends will have to be bolder, not only in scale but also in terms of multisectoral collaboration," the heads of the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) urged in their joint foreword to the report. 

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.

The situation is most alarming in Africa, as the region has the highest rates of hunger in the world and which are continuing to slowly but steadily rise in almost all subregions. In Eastern Africa in particular, close to a third of the population (30.8 percent) is undernourished. In addition to climate and conflict, economic slowdowns and downturns are driving the rise. Since 2011, almost half the countries where rising hunger occurred due to economic slowdowns or stagnation were in Africa.  

The largest number of undernourished people (more than 500 million) lives in Asia, mostly in southern Asian countries. Together, Africa and Asia bear the greatest share of all forms of malnutrition, as asserted in this year The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report.

In addition to the challenges of stunting and wasting, Asia and Africa are also home to nearly three-quarters of all overweight children worldwide, largely driven by consumption of unhealthy diets.

The report estimates that over 2 billion people, mostly in low- and middle-income countries, do not have regular access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food. But irregular access is also a challenge for high-income countries, including 8 percent of the population in Northern America and Europe.

Key facts and figures

-Number of hungry people in the world in 2018: 821.6 million (or 1 in 9 people)

in Asia: 513.9 million

in Africa: 256.1million

in Latin America and the Caribbean: 42.5 million

-Number of moderately or severely food insecure: 2 billion (26.4%)

-Babies born with low birth weight: 20.5 million (one in seven)

-Children under 5 who are overweight (high weight-for-height): 40 million (5.9%)

-School-age children and adolescents who are overweight: 338 million

-Adults who are obese: 672 million (13% or 1 in 8 adults)

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