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Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia lead the hunger rates in South America


The most unequal region in the world has the highest cost of a healthy diet globally, according to the latest FAO report

Photograph of an informal market in a street on January 14, 2023, in Caracas (Venezuela). Miguel Gutiérrez (EFE)

The number of hungry people doubled in South America between 2015 and 2021, from 17.2 million to 34.2 million, according to the report

Regional Panorama of Food and Nutrition Security in Latin America

published on Wednesday by the United Nations Organization. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Venezuela registers the highest rate of undernourishment -people who cannot acquire enough food to meet minimum dietary energy needs for at least one year-, with 22.9%, followed by Ecuador (15.4%) and Bolivia (13, 9%).

In Colombia, Paraguay, Peru and Suriname it exceeded 8%.

On a regional scale, 56.5 million people suffered from hunger last year, 30.5% more than the pre-pandemic figure.

In 2021, food insecurity, that is, lack of regular access to enough food, affected 40% of the population of Latin America and the Caribbean, significantly exceeding the world average (29.3%).

Severe food insecurity has increased at a faster rate in South America than in the rest of the region.

The number of those affected has tripled since 2014, from 22 million to 65.6 million people.

Globally, this problem affects more women than men.

The disparity in the region is 11.3 percentage points, the highest in the world, where the average gap is 4.3.

The report reveals that hunger, food insecurity, childhood overweight and adult obesity are worsening in the region.

The only recent advances towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by UN member countries for 2030 have been in the field of breastfeeding among children under six months of age and child growth retardation.

The FAO explains that the "worrying trends" are due, to a large extent, to being the most unequal region in the world, added to the strong impact of the pandemic, which disproportionately affected women, and food inflation, marked by war in Ukraine.

High inflation rates reduce the purchasing power of households, especially affecting people with lower incomes, who are the ones who spend a greater proportion of their budget on food.

Poor diet quality can lead to growth retardation, anemia, overweight and obesity.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, obesity, for example, affects almost a quarter of the adult population (24.2%), well above the world average (13.1%), according to the latest available measurement of this indicator, dating from 2016. The good news is that, like the global trend, South America has shown significant progress in reducing stunting.

Between 2000 and 2020 it reduced those affected by 41%.

In 2020, 131 million people in the region could not afford the cost of a healthy diet, which is four times more expensive than an energy efficient one.

In the region, it costs $3.89 per person per day, the highest price compared to the rest of the world, whose average is $3.54.

These diets are based on a wide variety of unprocessed or minimally processed foods, which is balanced, and includes a minimum of five servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

"Although the fiscal situation of many countries in the region represents a significant challenge for governments, it is imperative to address the cost of and access to healthy diets," the FAO document warns.

In order to lower the costs of a healthy diet, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations considers it "crucial" to increase and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of investments in food and agricultural policies in three main areas of the system: policies aimed at food producers, trade and markets, and food consumers.

Good practices in the region reveal that increasing the production and productivity of more diverse foods can make nutritious foods more accessible to consumers.

Policies that support smallholder and family farmer food production, and that link their production to food programs or local markets through shorter food supply chains,

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Source: elparis

All news articles on 2023-01-19

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