Estimated number of undernourished people increased
The latest State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations warns that food insecurity is on the rise, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, with an increase of almost three percentage points from 2014 to 2016.
According to the report, the recent increase is cause for great concern and poses a significant challenge for international commitments to end hunger by 2030. The report also indicated that in 2016, the number of undernourished people in the world increased to an estimated 815 million, up from 777 million in 2015 but still down from about 900 million in the year 2000. Similarly, while the prevalence of undernourishment is projected to have increased to an estimated 11 percent in 2016, this is still well below the level of a decade ago.
“The food security situation has visibly worsened in parts of sub-Saharan Africa and South-Eastern and Western Asia. After a prolonged decline, world hunger appears to be on the rise again. Much of the recent increase in food insecurity can be traced to the greater number of conflicts, often exacerbated by climate-related shocks,” the findings read in part.
FAO further notes that the worrying trend in undernourishment is not yet reflected in levels of chronic child malnutrition (stunting), which continue to fall but at a slower rate in several regions.
“The worrisome trend in undernourishment indicators is, however, not reflected in nutritional outcomes. Evidence on various forms of malnutrition points to continued decreases in the prevalence of child stunting, as reflected in global and regional averages. However, stunting still affects almost one in four children under the age of five years, increasing their risk of impaired cognitive ability, weakened performance at school and work, and dying from infections.”
Meanwhile, obesity among children under five is reported to be becoming more of a problem in most regions. Adult obesity is also reported to be on the rise in all regions. Multiple forms of malnutrition therefore coexist, with countries experiencing simultaneously high rates of child under-nutrition and adult obesity.