Feast or famine is a global health dilemma

Sunday News - - WORLD -

LON­DON Al­most ev­ery coun­try in the world now has se­ri­ous nu­tri­tion prob­lems, ei­ther due to overeat­ing lead­ing to obe­sity or a lack of food lead­ing to un­der­nu­tri­tion, ac­cord­ing to a ma­jor study.

Re­searchers be­hind the Global Nu­tri­tion Re­port, which looked at 140 coun­tries, said the prob­lems were ‘‘putting the brakes on hu­man de­vel­op­ment as a whole’’ and called for a crit­i­cal change in the re­sponse to this global health threat.

The re­port found that while mal­nu­tri­tion rates are fall­ing glob­ally, their rate of de­crease is not fast enough to meet the in­ter­na­tion­ally agreed Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goal (SDG) to end all forms of mal­nu­tri­tion by 2030.

More than 155 mil­lion chil­dren aged un­der 5 are stunted due to lack of nu­tri­tion, and 52 mil­lion are de­fined as ‘‘wasted’’, mean­ing they do not weigh enough for their height, the re­port says.

At the other end of the spec­trum, overeat­ing is tak­ing a heavy toll on peo­ple of all ages world- wide. The re­port found that two bil­lion of the world’s seven bil­lion peo­ple are now over­weight or obese. In North Amer­ica, a third of all men and women are obese. World­wide, at least 41 mil­lion chil­dren un­der 5 are over­weight, and in Africa alone some 10 mil­lion chil­dren are now clas­si­fied as over­weight.

‘‘His­tor­i­cally, ma­ter­nal anaemia and child un­der­nu­tri­tion have been seen as sep­a­rate prob­lems to obe­sity and non­com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases,’’ said Jes­sica Fanzo, a pro­fes­sor at Johns Hop­kins Univer­sity in the United States who co-led the Global Nu­tri­tion Re­port.

‘‘The re­al­ity is they are in­ti­mately con­nected and driven by in­equal­i­ties ev­ery­where in the world. That’s why gov­ern­ments ... need to tackle them holis­ti­cally.’’

Donor fund­ing for nu­tri­tion rose by just 2 per cent to US$867 mil­lion in 2015, the re­port found. It said fund­ing needed to be ‘‘tur­bocharged’’. Reuters

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