The number of people suffering from hunger has been slowly but surely increasing over the past three years. Today, about one in every nine people globally is suffering from hunger. This fact, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), underlines “the immense challenge” to achieving the Zero Hunger target (also known as Goal 2) of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
FAO just published a new report – the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2019 – which has been presented by FAO’s Secretary-General José Graziano da Silva on the margins of the High-level Political Forum (HLPF), the main UN platform monitoring the efforts of States to achieve the SDGs.
José Graziano da Silva started his presentation with a warning: “We believe [that to] eradicate poverty and hunger are the fundamentals of the others [goals]. If we don’t achieve the first two goals, we will not be able to make progress in the other 15 SDGs.”
He then moved on to highlight the two most groundbreaking points of the report. For the first time ever, FAO introduced the indicator of Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES). This is different from FAO’s traditional tools to measure hunger, which count the number of undernourished individuals and give an idea of the availability of food per capita. FIES is born from a different concept: it asks families about their fears regarding food security and difficulties to procure three meals a day. It emerged that 2 billion people in the world are afraid of not having enough food on a daily basis. This number is almost 3 times higher than the traditional number indicating hunger, which is 820 million.
Another surprising fact emerging from the report is that the total number of obese people in the world has been surpassing the number of hungry or undernourished people starting from 2016 in all continents, except for Africa and Asia. There are more than 27 million obese people on all continents, and this number is growing. Looking at the tendency, very soon, even in Africa and Asia, there will be more obese people than hungry people. The report suggests best practices to prevent and fight obesity, such as labeling products, restricting advertising of unhealthy foods to children, reducing fat, salt, and sugar in products, and ensuring better access to fresh and healthy food markets.
Thus, there are almost three billion people in the world that are, one way or another, malnourished. The only way to tackle this challenge is to take bolder action not only in scale, but “also in terms of multi-sectoral collaboration, involving the agriculture, food, health, water, and sanitation, education, and other relevant sectors; and in different policy domains, including social protection, development planning and economic policy.”