News / Health

UN: Global Malnutrition Costs Are Unacceptable

Women sell vegetables and other food in a market on World Food Day in Lagos, Nigeria, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012. One in eight people around the world goes to bed hungry every night, according to the United Nations.
Women sell vegetables and other food in a market on World Food Day in Lagos, Nigeria, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012. One in eight people around the world goes to bed hungry every night, according to the United Nations.
Global hunger, poor nutrition and obesity are costing the world trillions of dollars in health costs and lost productivity, according to a new report from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The FAO report says fighting hunger is not enough. Tackling the more complex problem of malnutrition calls for action across the entire food system, from farm to fork.

About 870 million people worldwide are hungry, according to the FAO. But malnutrition is about more than just hunger.

“Two billion people are deficient in essential vitamins and minerals," said FAO's Kostas Stamoulis. "One child in four under the age of five is stunted. And 1.4 billion people are overweight.”

The FAO report says the combined effects of all these forms of malnutrition cut the world’s income by an estimated five percent per year, or about $3.5 trillion.

While about 40 countries have reached the goal of reducing hunger by half, there is a long way to go to improve nutrition.

Stamoulis says that is because good nutrition has not been the top priority.

“There has been more effort and more success in providing people with the quantity of food that would allow them to overcome what we call the undernourishment problem," he said. "But we need a little bit more coordination and better focus on malnutrition.”

The focus on nutrition is a new approach for FAO. The effort needs to involve players throughout the entire food system, from farmers and food processors to consumers and government agencies, according to FAO Deputy Director-General Daniel Gustafson.

“Everyone has to have nutrition goals and nutrition outcomes in mind throughout the food chain, and throughout all our work," he said. "And that is, in fact, a significant change.”

That work includes promoting diverse diets, boosting the production of nutrient-rich foods like fruits and vegetables, and cutting waste, which claims nearly a third of the food produced worldwide.

Stamoulis praised modern food processing, packaging and retailing for its efficiency, making meals available and affordable in ever-increasing areas. But he cautioned that ready access to unhealthy meals is also contributing to obesity.

Ultimately, Stamoulis says, consumers are the key to making healthy food systems work.

“You can process food properly, you can produce it properly, you can have the possibility to supply diverse diets," he said. "But if they are not consumed, the impact that we expect will be low.”

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: sowmyaakamrddi from: india
June 12, 2013 6:13 AM
FARMING :AN "ENDANGERED" SEGMENT IN THE SOCIETY ?
Food production itself is a major challenge.villages are getting deserted.arable land is being changed into commercial crops.farmers are migrating to towns and turned into labourers.can the deteriorating cultivable land feed the fast growing population is the question of the hour.we must act now and change the picture or perish.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs