Together, Africa and Asia bear the greatest share of all forms of malnutrition, accounting for more than nine out of 10 of all stunted children and over nine out of 10 of all wasted children worldwide, the World report on The State of Food Security and Nutrition, says.
This new UN report indicated that Asia and Africa are also home to nearly three-quarters of all overweight children worldwide, largely driven by consumption of unhealthy diets.
This report that underscores the immense challenge of achieving the Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger by 2030, estimated that 820 million people did not have enough to eat in 2018, up from 811 million in the previous year, which is the third year of increase in a row.
According to the report, the pace of progress in halving the number of children who are stunted and in reducing the number of babies born with low birth weight is too slow, which also puts the SDG 2 nutrition targets further out of reach.
At the same time, adding to these challenges, overweight and obesity continue to increase in all regions, particularly among school-age children and adults.
The chances of being food insecure are higher for women than men in every continent, with the largest gap in Latin America.
“Our actions to tackle these troubling trends will have to be bolder, not only in scale but also in terms of multisectoral collaboration,” the heads of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) urged in their joint foreword to the report.
The annual UN report also found that income inequality is rising in many of the countries where hunger is on the rise, making it even more difficult for the poor, vulnerable or marginalized to cope with economic slowdowns and downturns.
The situation is most alarming in Africa, as the region has the highest rates of hunger in the world and which are continuing to slowly but steadily rises in almost all subregions.
Since 2011, almost half the countries where rising hunger occurred due to economic slowdowns or stagnation were in Africa. The largest number of undernourished people (more than 500 million) lives in Asia, mostly in southern Asian countries.
The 2017 report identified three factors behind the recent rise in hunger: conflict, climate and economic slowdowns. This year’s report focuses on the role of economic slowdowns and downturns in food security and nutrition.