U.N. calls for action on malnutrition

Nov 19, 2014, 4:02 PM EST
An employee stocks the shelves with fresh peppers in the produce section of a Whole Foods Market Inc. store in Dublin, Ohio, U.S., on Friday, Nov. 7, 2014.
Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization have called for global action against malnutrition, in all its forms. Despite worldwide hunger statistics lowering, obesity is a problem. Reuters reports:

The agencies met at a conference in Rome along with ministers for health, food and agriculture from 170 countries and adopted a declaration on nutrition that the FAO has said binds countries to take action to solve the problem.
 
WHO Director General Margaret Chan told delegates that social and income inequality and gaps between people's nutrition levels were at their highest in living memory.
 
"Something is wrong," Chan said. "Part of our out-of-balance world still starves to death and other parts stuff (themselves) into a level of obesity so widespread that it is pushing life expectancy figures backward and pushing the cost of healthcare to astronomical figures," Chan said.
 
Chan said there should be rules on maximum food intake to protect against diet-related diseases. According to the declaration on nutrition, poor diets and lack of exercise account for almost 10 percent of all disease and disability.
 
 
Today, more than 800 million people – about 11 per cent of the global population – are chronically hungry. Undernutrition is the underlying cause of almost half of all child deaths, and a quarter of living children are stunted due to inadequate nutrition. Micronutrient deficiencies – due to diets lacking in vitamins and minerals, also known as "hidden hunger" – affect 2 billion people.
 
Another worrying form of malnutrition – obesity  – is on the rise. More than 500 million adults are obese as a result of diets containing excess fat, sugars and salt. This exposes people to a greater risk of noncommunicable diseasessuch as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer – now the top causes of death in the world. Poor diet and physical inactivity also account for 10 per cent of the global burden of disease.
 
Many developing countries now face multiple burdens of malnutrition, with people living in the same communities – sometimes even the same households – suffering from undernutrition, hidden hunger and obesity.

 

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