Global Health Asia-Pacific July 2022 | Page 39

Global hunger and malnourishment are skyrocketing

The health consequences will be devastating

The number of people who don ’ t have enough food for a healthy diet has increased dramatically over the last two years , moving the world away from the goal of ending hunger and malnutrition by 2030 , according to the �� report The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World .

�n ���� , ��� million people were affected by hunger , a surge of 46 million from the previous year and ��� million from ���� . The figure has been relatively stable since ���� but skyrocketed in ���� , reflecting the major role C������� played in driving up hunger .
�f we consider people who were moderately or severely food insecure , the number stood at 2.3 billion in ���� , with another ��� million people filling its ranks after the pandemic broke out in ���� .
This is having a particularly detrimental effect on children , with �� million under the age of five suffering from wasting , a severe form of malnutrition that weakens the immune system and increases the risk of death by up to �� times if not treated properly . Another ��� million children have stunted growth and development due to a lack of essential nutrients .
�The unprecedented scale of the malnutrition crisis demands an unprecedented response . We must double our efforts to ensure that the most vulnerable children have access to nutritious , safe , and affordable diets -- and services for the early prevention , detection and treatment of malnutrition . With so many children ’ s lives and futures at stake , this is the time to step up our ambition for child nutrition – and we have no time to waste , � said ���C�� ��ecutive �irector Catherine Russell , in a press release .
The latest available data also showed that the number of women aged 15 to 49 with anaemia rose from 493 million in 2000 to almost 571 million in 2019 . Characterised by a low concentration of red blood cells or the protein haemoglobin , the condition can cause weakness , di��iness , and shortness of breath and can lead to adverse pregnancy and newborn outcomes .
The pandemic has also had a negative effect on the ability of people to buy healthy food , the report says , with � . � billion unable to afford it in ���� probably due to the effects of inflation on consumer food prices .
To fi� the problem , the authors stress that repurposing agricultural policies to support the production of nutritious foods can make healthy diets more affordable and accessible to more people . This would require countries to reverse their current policies of investing most agricultural subsidies in incentivising meat , rice , and sugar production while using fewer resources for foods that are healthier , including vegetables and fruits .
The �ussian invasion of �kraine has also worsened the ongoing food crisis since both countries are major e�porters of wheat and barley , leading to reduced availability of staples and higher costs .
“ Every year , 11 million people die due to unhealthy diets . Rising food prices mean this will only get worse . �H� supports countries ’ efforts to improve food systems through ta�ing unhealthy foods and subsidising healthy options , protecting children from harmful marketing , and ensuring clear nutrition labels . �e must work together to achieve the ���� global nutrition targets , to fight hunger and malnutrition , and to ensure that food is a source of health for all ,” �orld Health �rgani�ation �irector��eneral Tedros Adhanom �hebreyesus said in a press release .
GlobalHealthAsiaPacific . com JULY 2022