One in three people suffers some form of malnutrition – Enormous economic burden

 

Photo credit: FAO

A farming family in Kyrgyzstan takes a break from the day’s work to share a meal.

Malnutrition in the crosshairs

One in three people suffers some form of malnutrition – Enormous economic burden – International meeting searches for ways to improve diets and food systems

Responding to the mounting impacts of malnutrition on public health and economic development — estimated to cost $3.5 trillion per year — via a shift to healthier diets and food systems will be the subject of a high-level symposium kicking off here today.

The International Symposium on Sustainable Food Systems for Healthy Diets and Improved Nutrition (1-2 December) will look at country-level challenges and successes to shed light on effective approaches to reshaping food production, processing, marketing and retail systems to better tackle the problem of malnutrition, which blights the lives of billions of individuals and can trap generations in a vicious cycle of poverty and malnutrition.

Lamenting the fact that one in three people on the planet suffers from some form of malnutrition — either undernutrition or overweight and obesity — FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said that “no country is immune” from the problem whose “human, social, environmental and economic costs are overwhelming” during his opening remarks at the event co-organized by FAO and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Graziano da Silva pledged FAO’s support to help countries “adopt a food systems approach to address all states of the food chain: from production and processing to marketing and consumption.”

“Nutrition must be considered a public issue, a State responsibility,” he said, adding that “consumers must be empowered to choose healthy food and diets” through nutrition-sensitive social protection, nutrition education, and effective and accurate labelling and advertising.

Governments should encourage diversification of agriculture, improved post-harvest management, facilitate market access for poor family farmers and guarantee food-safety, he added.

Read the full article: FAO

 

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Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.