New UN re­port says hunger, obe­sity and in­equal­ity in­creas­ing in re­gion

Daily Observer (Jamaica) - - NEWS -

SAN­TI­AGO, Chile (CMC) – A new United Na­tions re­port says for the third con­sec­u­tive year, the num­ber of peo­ple chron­i­cally hun­gry has in­creased in Latin Amer­ica and the Caribbean, while 250 mil­lion – 60 per cent of the re­gional pop­u­la­tion, are obese or overweight, rep­re­sent­ing the big­gest threat to nu­tri­tional health.

Speak­ing at the launch of The 2018 Panorama of Food and Nutri­tion Se­cu­rity re­port in San­ti­ago, Chile on Wed­nes­day, the UN Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­ga­ni­za­tion’s (FAO) re­gional rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Julio Berdegue, said it was an “ap­palling” threat to health over­all, af­fect­ing women and indige­nous groups the most.

The Panorama, pub­lished an­nu­ally by FAO, the Pan Amer­i­can Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (PAHO), the United Na­tions Chil­dren’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Pro­gramme (WFP), ex­plores strate­gies to halt the health threats posed by hunger and mal­nu­tri­tion in Latin Amer­ica and the Caribbean.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, hunger, mal­nu­tri­tion, lack of mi­cronu­tri­ents and obe­sity largely af­fect lower in­come fam­i­lies, women, indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties, Afrode­scen­dants and ru­ral fam­i­lies.

The re­port says that the prin­ci­pal causes of mal­nu­tri­tion among the most vul­ner­a­ble can be traced back to changes the food sys­tems have ex­pe­ri­enced in the re­gion, from pro­duc­tion to con­sump­tion.

With a greater strain on the de­mand for nu­tri­ent-rich food like milk and meats, the re­port says many re­sort to less costly op­tions, which are of­ten higher in fat, sugar and salt.

“Obe­sity is grow­ing un­con­trol­lably,” Berdegue said.

Maria Cristina Perce­val, who serves at the re­gional direc­torate for UNICEF in the re­gion, said stunt­ing cor­re­lates closely to in­equal­ity and poverty lev­els, adding that be­ing chron­i­cally overweight “is also in­creas­ingly af­fect­ing the poor­est chil­dren”.

She un­der­scored that lower in­come fam­i­lies have un­equal ac­cess to healthy di­ets.

The re­port says that obe­sity has be­come the great­est threat to Latin Amer­ica and the Caribbean when it comes to nu­tri­tional health con­di­tions.

Nearly one in four adults are obese and more than seven per cent of chil­dren be­low the age of five are overweight — higher than the global aver­age of 5.6 per cent, the re­port stated.

To ad­dress the ex­ac­er­ba­tion of hunger and obe­sity, a “mul­ti­spec­toral ap­proach is needed”, said PAHO Di­rec­tor Dr Carissa Eti­enne, adding that the solution re­quires ad­dress­ing so­cial fac­tors, just as well as water qual­ity and ac­cess to health ser­vices.

In re­sponse to grow­ing mal­nu­tri­tion, the UN said part­ner au­thors on the re­port have called on coun­tries to im­ple­ment pub­lic poli­cies that com­bat in­equal­ity, while pro­mot­ing health and sus­tain­able food sys­tems.

The United Na­tions re­port says that obe­sity has be­come the great­est threat to Latin Amer­ica and the Caribbean when it comes to nu­tri­tional health con­di­tions.

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