STUDY: Obesity Is A Bigger Problem Around The World Than Hunger


Photo: Tony Alter/Flickr

More people in the world are overweight or obese than suffering from hunger, according to a book recently published by the Food and Agricultural organisation of the United Nations.”FAO data show that one billion people suffer from hunger, while even more people are overweight or obese,” writes Barbara Burlingame, Principal Officer of the FAO’s Nutrition and Consumer Protection Division.

In a press release for the book, Burlingame said that 925 million people suffer from hunger, while 1.5 billion people are considered overweight or obese. However, in both of these groups people suffer from micronutrient malnutrition including vitamin A, iron, or iodine deficiency.

“The latest hunger figures show that 925 million people live in chronic hunger,” Changchui He, FAO’s Deputy Director-General, writes later in the book. “While there is a welcome decline from the 2009 level, the number of hungry people remains unacceptably high.”

The FAO calculates chronic hunger based on the number of people who don’t consume the daily minimum energy requirement, which can vary depending on age and gender and other physical characteristics. However, on average, a person needs 1,800 kilocalories a day to meet their daily energy needs, according to FAO.

Chronic hunger and undernourishment are most prevalent in poor, underdeveloped nations in South America, Asia and especially Africa.

Countries like Zambia, Angola and Ethiopia all see more than 40 per cent of their population face undernourishment and chronic hunger.

Between 1968 and 2008, the percentage of the world living in hunger shrunk from 26 per cent to 13 per cent.

Growing numbers of people considered overweight or obese, meaning their body mass index is 25 or higher, is most prevalent in developed countries like Canada and the United States and increasingly in developing countries like China.

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