More people in the world are hunger now and the number is steadily increasing with the estimated number of undernourished people increasing from 777 million in 2015 to 815 million in 2016.
After steadily declining for over a decade, global hunger appears to be on the rise, affecting 11 percent of the global population, a new report says. These recent estimates are a warning signal that the aim of a world without hunger and malnutrition by 2030 will be challenging, and that accomplishing it will require sustained commitment and efforts to promote the adequate availability of and access to nutritious food, it warns.
The food security situation visibly worsened in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, South Eastern and Western Asia. This was most notable in situations of conflict, in particular where the food security impacts of conflict were compounded by droughts of floods, linked in part to El Niño phenomenon and climate-related shocks, according to the UN report on “State of the Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2017.’’
Over the past ten years, the number of violent conflicts around the world has increased significantly, in particular in countries already facing food insecurity, hitting rural communities the hardest and having a negative impact on food production and availability.
The situation has also deteriorated in some peaceful settings, particularly those affected by economic slowdowns. A number of countries heavily dependent on commodity exports have experienced dramatically reduced export and fiscal revenues in recent years. Thus, food availability has been affected through reduced import capacity while access to food has deteriorated in part due to reduced fiscal potential to protect poor households against rising domestic food prices, the report says.
The worrisome trend in undernourishment is, however, not yet reflected in nutritional outcomes since evidence on various forms of malnutrition points to continuous decrease in the prevalence of stunting among children.
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 dying from infections. At the same time, various forms of malnutrition are still cause for concern worldwide. Stunting still affects 155 million of children under the age of five years.
The report further says overweight among children under five is becoming more of a problem in most regions, while adult obesity continues to rise in all regions. Multiple forms of malnutrition therefore coexist, with countries experiencing simultaneously high rates of child under-nutrition and adult obesity.Undernutrition, overweight and their associated non-communicable diseases now coexist in many regions, countries and even households. Six nutrition indicators – three that form part of the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) monitoring framework, and three that refer to global nutrition targets agreed by the World Health Assembly, are described below to better understand the multiple burden of malnutrition, which affects all regions in the world.
While the prevalence of child stunting seems to be decreasing for both global and regional averages, in 2016 close to 155 million children under five years of age across the world suffered from stunted growth, increasing their risk of suffering impaired cognitive ability, weakened performance at school and work, and dying from infections. Globally, the prevalence of stunting fell from 29.5 percent to 22.9 percent between 2005 and 2016 .
From 2005 to 2016 most regions achieved reductions in stunting, with the rate of improvement fastest in Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean. The prevalence of stunting also declined in all sub-regions in Africa, but at a much slower rate. In fact the rate of decline has not kept pace with population increases, resulting in a high number of stunted children overall.
In 2016 wasting affected 7.7 percent of children under five years of age worldwide. About 17 million children suffered from severe wasting. Southern Asia stands out with a high prevalence of 15.4 percent. At almost 9 percent, South-Eastern Asia is also far off the targets set by the internationally agreed global nutrition target. While the prevalence is somewhat lower in Africa, it still stands above the global nutrition target. Childhood overweight is a growing problem in most regions. Worldwide, an estimated 41 million children under five were overweight in 2016, up from 5 percent in 2005. Adult obesity continues to rise everywhere, representing a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and some forms of cancer.
The global prevalence of obesity more than doubled between 1980 and 2014. In 2014, more than 600 million adults were obese, equal to about 13 percent of the world’s adult population.
The most recent estimates for 2016 indicate that anaemia affects 33 percent of women of reproductive age globally (about 613 million women between 15 and 49 years of age). In Africa and Asia, the prevalence is highest at over 35 percent. It is lowest in Northern America, Europe and Oceania (below 20 percent).