A World of One Billion Empty Plates — Global Problems

Ten of the world’s worst climate hotspots have experienced a 123 percent increase in acute hunger in the past six years, according to a new report from Oxfam. Credit: FAO
  • by Baher Kamal (Madrid)
  • Inter Press Service

If instead you are among the more than 550 million Africans who are moderately hungry (40 percent of the continent’s total population of 1,300+ people) or severely hungry (about 300 million or 24 percent of all Africans), your answer would be that you probably – or do – go to bed hungry… even today.

A similar murky fate is unfolding in other ‘developing regions’, usually defined as middle and low-income countries. In Asia, with nearly 10 percent or about 500 million of the total population of nearly 5 billion, representing 60 percent of the world’s population.

In the case of Latin America and the Caribbean, the percentage of people suffering moderate to severe hunger and food insecurity is 9 percent of the region’s total population of 550 million.

By comparison, such numbers barely reach 2.5 percent of the North American population (600 million) and Europe (750 million).

In short, it is estimated that by 2021 between 702 and 828 million people in the world (8.9 percent and 10.5 percent of the total population, respectively) will be hungry.

Too many explanations, same consequences

These are numbers, numbers. The reality is that a billion people are right now in the darkness of food scarcity, or even no food at all.

It doesn’t matter to them whether the mainstream media pretends their fate is caused by just one war or the usual speculation and greed that drives food prices up.

Many of the millions of hungry people are probably unaware that the world has produced enough food to meet all the needs of planet Earth’s population.

Nor that more than a third of total food production is wasted, dumped in garbage cans and lost in inadequate storage facilities.

It doesn’t matter if the international scientific community warns every day that climate change, severe drought, catastrophic flooding and other factors are contributing to the acute shortage of funds to save lives, fueling armed conflict and spending unprecedented spending on weapons of mass destruction (more than $2 trillion in 2021) See: New world records: more guns than ever. And a hunger crisis like no other

What is food insecurity?

Food security is defined as adequate access to food in both quality and quantity.

Moderate food insecurity: People experiencing moderate food insecurity face uncertainties about their ability to obtain food and are forced to make concessions in the quality and/or quantity of the food they consume.

Severe food insecurity: People who experience severe food insecurity usually run out of food and, at worst, go a day (or days) without eating.

Wrong way

“The world is going in the wrong direction,” confirms the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which – among other international bodies – just released the above figures in its 2022 report: The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the world.

New estimates for 2021 suggest that the prevalence of moderate or severe food insecurity has remained relatively unchanged compared to 2020, the FAO reports, adding that “severe food insecurity has increased, providing further evidence of a worsening situation, especially for those already face serious hardships.”

“In 2021, an estimated 29.3 percent of the world’s population – 2.3 billion people – was moderately or severely food insecure, and 11.7 percent (923.7 million people) experienced severe food insecurity.”

In other words, extreme hunger has more than doubled in the past six years in 10 of the world’s worst climate hotspots.

“Ten of the world’s worst climate hotspots — those with the highest number of UN calls due to extreme weather events — have experienced acute hunger rates of 123 percent in the past six years,” according to a Sept. 16, 2022 Oxfam report.

Hunger discriminates

There is also a growing gender gap in food insecurity. In 2021, 31.9 percent of women in the world were moderately or severely food insecure compared to 27.6 percent of men — a gap of more than 4 percentage points, compared to 3 percentage points in 2020, the report said.

The latest estimate for low birth weight showed that 14.6 percent of newborns (20.5 million) were born with low birth weight in 2015, a modest decrease from 17.5 percent (22.9 million) in 2000 .

Optimal breastfeeding practices, including exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, are critical to infant survival and the promotion of health and cognitive development.

But it is not like that. In fact, the world’s leading specialist health and children’s organizations have once again sounded the alarm over what they classify as “shocking, insidious, exploitative, aggressive, deceptive and pervasive” marketing ploys used by the baby food-milk trade with the sole purpose that makes their already high profits even greater.

In fact, the FAO reports that prevalence worldwide has risen from 37.1 percent (49.9 million) in 2012 to 43.8 percent (59.4 million) in 2020. Yet more than half of all babies under six months had globally are not seeing the protective benefits of exclusive breastfeeding, according to the report, which adds the following:

Stunting, the condition of being undersized for age, undermines children’s physical and cognitive development, increases the risk of dying from common infections and predisposes them to obesity and non-communicable diseases later in life.

Child wasting is a life-threatening condition caused by insufficient nutrient absorption, nutrient malabsorption and/or frequent or prolonged illness. Affected children are dangerously thin with weakened immunity and a higher risk of death. The prevalence of waste among children under the age of five was 6.7 percent (45.4 million) in 2020.

Children who are overweight or obese face both immediate and potentially long-term health consequences, including a higher risk of non-communicable diseases later in life.

Worldwide, the prevalence of overweight among children under five has increased slightly from 5.4 percent (33.3 million) in 2000 to 5.7 percent (38.9 million) in 2020. In about half of the countries worldwide, we have an upward trend.

Anemia: The prevalence of anemia in women aged 15 to 49 was estimated to be 29.9 percent in 2019.

The absolute number of women with anemia has steadily increased from 493 million in 2000 to 570.8 million in 2019, impacting women’s morbidity and mortality and can lead to adverse pregnancies and newborns.

Globally, adult obesity has nearly doubled in absolute terms from 8.7 percent (343.1 million) in 2000 to 13.1 percent (675.7 million) in 2016.

Children in rural settings and poorer households are more vulnerable to stunted growth and waste. Children and adults, especially women, in urban areas and wealthier households are at higher risk of being overweight and obese, respectively.

Babies who live in rural areas, in poorer households, with mothers who have no formal education and female babies are more likely to be breastfed. Women without formal education are more vulnerable to anemia and their children to dwarfism and wasting.

© Inter Press Service (2022) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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