Poor di­ets threaten health more than malaria, tu­ber­cu­lo­sis, says UN re­port

The Hitavada - - WORLD - ■ By Yoshita Singh

WITH one-in-five deaths as­so­ci­ated with poor-qual­ity di­ets, the UN food agency has said that reg­u­larly eat­ing poor-qual­ity food has be­come a greater pub­lic health threat than malaria, tu­ber­cu­lo­sis or measles.

The United Na­tions Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­gan­i­sa­tion( FA O) co au­thored the re­port ti­tled ‘Pre­vent­ing nu­tri­ent loss and waste across the food sys­tem: Pol­icy ac­tions for high-qual­ity di­ets’.

It urged pol­i­cy­mak­ers to re­duce food loss and waste to im­prove ac­cess to nu­tri­tious and healthy food as it con­cluded that reg­u­larly eat­ing poor-qual­ity food has be­come a greater pub­lic health threat than malaria, tu­ber­cu­lo­sis or measles.

Ap­prox­i­mately one-third of food pro­duced for hu­man con­sump­tion never reaches the con­sumer’s plate or bowl. Nutri­en­trich foods, such as fruits, veg­eta­bles, seafood and meats are highly per­ish­able, ren­der­ing them sus­cep­ti­ble to losses through­out in­creas­ingly com­plex food pro­duc­tion sys­tems.

Ac­cord­ing the re­port, each year more than half of all glob­ally-pro­duced fruits and veg­eta­bles are lost or wasted. More­over, around 25 per cent of all meat pro­duced, equiv­a­lent to 75 mil­lion cows, goes uneaten.

“To tackle all forms of mal­nu­tri­tion and pro­mote healthy di­ets, we need to put in place food sys­tems that in­crease the avail­abil­ity, af­ford­abil­ity and con­sump­tion of fresh, nu­tri­ent-rich food for ev­ery­one,” FAO Di­rec­tor-Gen­eral Jose Graziano da Silva said.

Re­duc­ing food loss and waste, par­tic­u­larly high-nu­tri­ent foods, not only has nu­tri­tional ben­e­fits, but also con­trib­utes to the Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment Goals (SDGs), and should be a new pri­or­ity for im­prov­ing nu­tri­tion.

“Tak­ing spe­cific ac­tions to re­duce the losses and waste of fresh and nu­tri­tious food is a fun­da­men­tal part of this ef­fort,” said da Silva, who is also a mem­ber of the Global Panel on Agri­cul­ture and Food Sys­tems for Nu­tri­tion, joint re­port author.

The re­port pro­poses a se­ries of pol­icy ac­tions across the en­tire food sys­tem, in­clud­ing ed­u­cat­ing all con­cerned; fo­cus­ing on per­ish­able foods; im­prov­ing pub­lic and pri­vate in­fra­struc­ture; and clos­ing data gaps on food losses and waste. FAO data in­di­cates that in low-in­come coun­tries, food is mostly lost dur­ing har­vest­ing, stor­age, pro­cess­ing and trans­porta­tion; while in high­in­come na­tions the prob­lem lies in re­tail and con­sumer level waste.

To­gether, they di­rectly im­pact the num­ber of calo­ries and nu­tri­ents ac­tu­ally avail­able for con­sump­tion. Given the di­rect im­pact on well­be­ing, learn­ing ca­pac­ity and pro­duc­tiv­ity, the loss and waste of mi­cronu­tri­ents is of par­tic­u­lar con­cern.

Glob­ally, agri­cul­ture pro­duces 22 per cent more vi­ta­min A than we re­quire. How­ever, af­ter loss and waste, the amount avail­able for hu­man con­sump­tion is 11 per cent less than re­quired.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.