MADRID, Sep 23 (IPS) – Have you eaten today – or are you sure you will? The answer depends on where you were born and where you currently live. If you are Spanish or live here, you probably did or will, provided you are not one of the 900,000 people in this European country who suffer from hunger, malnutrition or undernourishment.
If instead you are one of the more than 550 million Africans who suffer from moderate hunger (40 percent of the continent’s total population of more than 1,300 people) or severe hunger (about 300 million, or 24 percent of all Africans), your answer would be that you probably do—or you definitely do. – go to bed hungry…even today.
A similar dark fate prevails in other “developing regions”, usually defined as middle- and low-income countries. Asia, home to nearly 10 percent, or about 500 million of its nearly 5 billion inhabitants, which accounts for 60 percent of the world’s population.
For Latin America and the Caribbean, the proportion of people suffering from moderate to severe hunger and food insecurity is 9 percent of the region’s total population of 550 million.
For comparison, such figures reach barely 2.5 percent of the population of North America (600 million) and Europe (750 million).
Briefly: It is estimated that between 702 and 828 million people worldwide suffered from hunger in 2021 (corresponding to 8.9 and 10.5 percent of the total population, respectively).
Too many explanations, same consequences
These are numbers, numbers. The reality is that a billion human beings are right now living in the darkness of food insecurity, if food insecurity at all.
It doesn’t matter to them whether the mainstream media is now pretending that their fate is caused by just one war or just plain speculation and greed driving up food prices.
Many of the millions of starving people are probably unaware that the world has produced enough food to cover all the needs of the population of planet Earth.
Also, that more than a third of all food production is wasted, thrown in garbage cans and lost in insufficient storage facilities.
Never mind that the international scientific community warns every day that climate change, major droughts, catastrophic floods and other factors will increase the acute shortage of resources needed to save human lives, while fueling armed conflicts and unprecedented spending on weapons of mass destruction (more than 2 trillion US dollars in 2021) See : New World Records: More guns than ever before. And a hunger crisis like no other
What is food insecurity?
Food security is defined as adequate access to food in both quality and quantity.
Moderate food insecurity: People with moderate food insecurity face uncertainty about their ability to obtain food and are forced to compromise on the quality and/or quantity of food they consume.
Severe food insecurity: People experiencing severe food insecurity have usually run out of food and, in the worst case scenario, have gone without food for a day (or days).
“The world is moving in the wrong direction,” confirms the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which, along with other international organizations, has just published the above figures in its 2022 report: The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World.
New estimates for 2021 suggest that the prevalence of moderate or severe food insecurity has remained relatively unchanged compared to 2020, the FAO reports, adding that “severe food insecurity has increased, providing further evidence of worsening conditions mainly for those already faced with serious difficulties.”
“In 2021, an estimated 29.3 percent of the world’s population—2.3 billion people—were moderately or severely food insecure, and 11.7 percent (923.7 million people) suffered from severe food insecurity.
In other words: extreme hunger has more than doubled in the last six years in the world’s 10 worst climates.
“The world’s 10 worst affected by climate change – those with the most UN appeals for extreme weather events – have suffered a 123 percent increase in acute hunger in the past six years alone,” according to Oxfam’s September 16, 2022 report.
The gender gap in food insecurity is also widening. According to the report, 31.9 percent of the world’s women were moderately or severely food insecure in 2021, compared to 27.6 percent of men — a gap of more than 4 percentage points compared to 3 percentage points in 2020.
The most recent estimate of low birth weight showed that 14.6 percent of newborns (20.5 million) were born with low birth weight in 2015, a modest decrease from 17.5 percent (22.9 million) in 2000.
Optimal breastfeeding practices, including exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, are critical for promoting infant survival and health and cognitive development.
But that’s not the case. In fact, the world’s leading health and children’s organizations have once again sounded the alarm about what they classify as shocking, insidious, exploitative, aggressive, misleading and all-out marketing ploys by the infant formula company with the sole purpose of further increasing their already high profits.
Worldwide, prevalence has increased from 37.1 percent (49.9 million) in 2012 to 43.8 percent (59.4 million) in 2020, the FAO reports. However, more than half of the world’s infants under the age of six months were not protected. The benefits of exclusive breastfeeding, according to the report, which adds:
Stunting, or being too short for one’s age, undermines children’s physical and cognitive development, increases their risk of dying from common infections, and promotes obesity and non-communicable diseases later in life.
Child wasting is a life-threatening condition caused by insufficient nutrient intake, poor nutrient absorption, and/or frequent or long-term illness. Affected children are dangerously thin, with weakened immunity and a higher risk of death. The prevalence of wasting in children under five was 6.7 percent (45.4 million) in 2020.
Children who are overweight or obese face both immediate and potentially long-term health consequences, including an increased risk of developing non-communicable diseases later in life.
Globally, the prevalence of obesity among children under five increased slightly from 5.4 percent (33.3 million) in 2000 to 5.7 percent (38.9 million) in 2020. Growth trends can be seen in about half of the world’s countries.
Anemia: The prevalence of anemia among women aged 15-49 was estimated at 29.9 percent in 2019.
The absolute number of women with anemia has increased steadily from 493 million in 2000 to 570.8 million in 2019, affecting morbidity and mortality among women and potentially leading to adverse pregnancy and neonatal outcomes.
Globally, adult obesity nearly doubled in absolute terms from 8.7 percent (343.1 million) in 2000 to 13.1 percent (675.7 million) in 2016.
Children living in rural areas and poorer households are more vulnerable to stunting and wasting. Children and adults living in urban areas and wealthier households, especially women, are at higher risk of overweight and obesity, respectively.
Infants living in rural areas, in poorer households whose mothers received no formal education, and female infants are more likely to be breastfed. Women without formal education are more vulnerable to anemia and their children to stunting and wasting.
© Inter Press Service (2022) — all rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service