Today the world celebrates World Food Day- on its 40th anniversary, it remains one of the most celebrated days in the United Nations calendar. On this day individuals and organizations participate in events to mark the day and raise awareness on issues to do with food.. This year’s theme is Healthy Diets for a Zero Hunger World. Recently, it’s been observed that achieving a Zero Hunger in the planet is not only about hunger but also nutrition. As such, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations during this year’s World Food Day is rallying all stakeholders across the agri-food chain to ensure healthy and nutritious diets are accessible to all. A combination of factors such as poverty, globalisation and lifestyles has recently increased the obesity levels in the both developed and developing countries. It is now common to find hunger and obesity coexist in poor countries.
According to World Health Organization, unhealthy diets are the leading cause of deaths from non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, heart complications and some cancers. Data from the United Nations indicate that over 670 million adults and 160 million children (0-19 years) are obese. The United Nations defines a healthy diet as one that meets the nutritional needs by providing enough, safe, nutritious and diverse foods to lead an active life and reduce the risk of disease. Quite often, many people cannot afford such diets are they unavailable. Unhealthy diets are a huge cost to governments through health care.
With the threats of climate change and projected population increase which not only threaten the quantity of food available but also the quality or nutritious value, the challenge of malnutrition can get worse. Projections from the United Nations show that by 2025, one in two people could be affected by various forms of malnutrition.
To combat this challenge, it is evident that it requires a multiagency approach. Governments need to educate the public on nutritious diets while ensuring affordability of healthy diets. They could also raise taxes on junk food. The world should also end both intra and inter-countries conflicts which are major cause of malnutrition especially for children. In a world where 30% of global food production goes to waste or is lost, it will also be necessary to look at the entire agri-food chain to mitigate the problem while appreciating the role of indigenous knowledge which is proving useful in tackling some problems in agriculture. Businesses in the food sector should also endeavour to act ethically but promoting nutritious diets, availing them in the market and labelling correctly We all have a role to play, whether in academia, civil society, government, media or in business. Act Now! Start by sharing this.
Image Credit: FAO, UN