Not only do 805 million people go to bed hungry every day, with one-third of global food production (1.3 billion tons each year) being wasted, there is another scenario that reflects the nutrition paradox even more starkly: two billion people are affected by micronutrients deficiencies while 500 million individuals suffer from obesity.
The double burden of malnutrition is a situation where overweight and obesity exist side by side with under-nutrition in the same country”, according to Anna Lartey, FAO’s Nutrition Director. “And we are seeing it in lots of the countries that are developing economically.”
“While under-nutrition still kills almost 1.5 million women and children every year, growing rates of overweight and obesity worldwide are driving rising diseases like cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes”, Francesco Branca, Director of Nutrition for Health and Development at the World Health Organisation (WHO), explained
Flavio Valente, who represented civil society organisations at the Second International Conference on Nutrition remarked that “the current hegemonic food system and agro-industrial production model are not only unable to respond to the existing malnutrition problems but have contributed to the creation of different forms of malnutrition and the decrease of the diversity and quality of our diets.”
This position was shared by many speakers, who stressed the negative impact that advertising of unhealthy food has, mainly on children. According to a participant from Chile, calling obesity a non-communicable disease is misleading, because it spreads through the media system very effectively. Chile, a country where 60 percent of people suffer from over-nutrition and one obese person dies every hour, currently risks being brought before the World Trade Organisation by multinational food companies for its commitment to protect public health by regulating the advertising of certain food.