The State of Food Insecurity in the World

The State of Food Insecurity in the World

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Food security is an urgent subject that has been extensively debated in scientific fields. Considering the main definition of food security already presented, food insecurity exists when people do not have condition to ensure their food security. Despite the fact that food insecurity is usually associated with hunger, underweight, and undernourishment, we can assume that food insecurity is also related to nutritional disorders like overweight and obesity.
Given the needs of the world population for food, ensuring food security for humanity is a global challenge that needs attention. Approximately one billion people are fighting against hunger (FAO 2013), and approximately 2 billion are overweight (Patel 2008), meaning that nearly half of the world has some abnormality feed. So, it is possible to consider that the global food system is not aligned to global food needs (De Schutter 2011). India, for example, is a country with alarming portions of its population with food anomalies, both in terms of overweight/obesity and hunger/undernourishment (Doak et al. 2005; Stein et al. 2005).
The alarming increase in the consumption of unhealthy food products (e.g. soft drinks and processed foods with high levels of salt, fat, sodium and sugar) brings concerns related to global food security, malnutrition, and public health. Evidence indicates that the growth in consumption of such "unhealthy" foods has been higher in low and middle income countries (LMICs) than in high income countries (HICs) (Stuckler et al. 2012). Thus, it is reasonable to assume that the negative effects of the high intake of such foods, considering the aggravation of the nutritional anomalies arising from food insecurity will severely increase in developing countries.
Despite the fact that one of the main goals of the millennium is the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger by 2015 (United Nations 2013), many developing nations are still facing severe problems of hunger and undernourishment. Indeed, the global performance in combating hunger needs better delineated actions aiming to fight this reality (FAO 2010a). Evidences show that some countries, mostly African and Asian countries, have insufficient performance in their fight against hunger, undernourishment, and underweight diagnoses (FAO 2010b). Despite the efforts of humanity fighting global scenario, in 2011-2013 about 842 million people were suffering from chronic hunger (FAO 2013b). Thus, about 65% of the world’s population that suffers from hunger lives in seven countries (India, China, Democratic Republic of Congo, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan and Ethiopia) (FAO 2010a). African and Asian countries are those with the worst conditions in terms of food security as well as the worst progress towards achieving the millennium goal related to eradicate hunger (FAO 2013b; FAO 2010b).

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Furthermore, regarding hunger and undernourishment, evidence shows that children are strongly affected by these nutritional disorders worldwide. Indeed, undernourishment can be associated with the deaths of 5 million children a year (aged under 5 years) in developing countries (UNICEF 2006a). Thus, around 146 million children living in developing economies are underweight (UNICEF 2007), mostly concentrated in South Asia and Africa (UNICEF 2006b).
Regarding nutritional intake, undernourishment related to low ingestion of protein, iron and vitamin A is faced as one of the main problems of child health. Also, nutritional issues are highly associated with risk of morbidity, mortality, child growth and child development (Ribas et al. 1999). In fact, severe undernourishment can compromise significantly cognitive capabilities of individuals in an irreversible way (Dobbing 1972). Thus, undernourished children are especially vulnerable to diseases and can die from common infections, such as measles and diarrhea (Caulfield, et al., 2004).
Furthermore, associating the concept of food insecurity to the obesogenic severity, we need to be aware that the current global environment is becoming severely obese (Swinburn et al. 1999), since significant portions of world’s population present symptoms of overweight and obesity. This pandemic problem (Gill 1997) has negative impacts to individuals and societies (Nederkoorn et al. 2006). Also, overweight and obesity have many causes like genetic, physiologic/metabolic, socio-behavioral and environmental (Bouchard 1991; Bouchard 1994; Weinsier et al. 1998; Blundell et al. 2005). However, the impact of nutritional habits and dietary models are obviously a significant factor related to these nutritional disorders. This study does not aim to contemplate the drivers or consequences of the obesogenic severity. However, we aimed to present evidences regarding the association level between the dietary models, the balance level of these models and the nutritional disorders associated with food insecurity (undernourishment/hunger and overweight/obesity).



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