World Food Day: Food Glorious food
Today marks the world food day – unlike how the name sounds, it is not a day designated for gluttonous food lovers to revel in their passion for eating. Quite the opposite, the day has a more sombre message. Held annually on the 16th October, It is a day that acknowledges world hunger and puts to action ways to nullify and decrease worldwide hunger from human civilisation.
The genesis of this cause started in 1945 by the Food and Agriculture Organisation department of the United Nations. This cause is celebrated by many other like-minded organisations that prioritise food security, such as the World Food Programme and the International Fund For Agricultural Development.
Calorie intake per country
Food is an everyday mundane luxury; according to the NHS, for a balanced, healthy diet, the necessary daily calorie intake for a man is 2,500kcal and 2,000kcal for a woman. However, these values and vary depending on age, metabolism, and levels of physical activity.
When analysing food consumption in 172 counties, the FAO consumption index reveals that the majority of the developed countries are at the top of this list, with an overcompensated daily dietary energy consumption rate per capita. The top 10 countries: Austria, United States, Greece, Belgium, Luxembourg, Italy, Malta, Ireland Portugal and Germany, all Western nations countries which have leading exportation values in their agricultural commodities. Austria had the highest average dietary consumption per capita of 15,900 (3800kcal) kilojoules between 2006 and 2008, and during that same period, the USA had a consumption level of 15,690 kilojoules (3750kcal).
According to FAO’s (2016) top 20 commodities export value by country, the USA has the highest export value of soybeans at 22865434 $1000 per unit. Again in fourth place, the USA’s exportation rate of maize is at a cost of 10282416 $1000 per unit. Similarly in the FAO’s 2016 records of the top 20 commodities import value by country, second to China the United States import beverages at a value of 7800504 $1000 per unit. With other commodities such as wine, crude materials, coffee, meat, and food preparation necessities, all of which are the top 10 most globally exported commodities.
On the other end of the spectrum, according to FAO consumption index out of a total of 172 countries, most of the countries in the developing world are ranked at the lower bottom end of the index. In comparison to Austria’s highest average dietary consumption per capita being 15,900 (3800kcal) kilojoules; Eritrea, ranked 172 in the index has the lowest highest average nutritional consumption per capita 6,650 kilojoules (1590kcal)
According to the World of Health Organisation, since 1961, the daily calorie intake has risen greatly, peaking between 500 and 600 calories higher for many places. Factors that contribute to such dramatic increases include - growing portion sizes in restaurants as well as an upsurge in the decrease in home cooking that has been replaced by eating/ordering food from eating establishments. A collection of data from independent and small food chains reveal that the average serving size of one meal is at 66% of an adult’s daily recommended caloric intake.
Due to the excessive production of food in the United States, one in four food calories ends up being wasted.
Consequently, many foodborne health-related illnesses can be attributed to the epidemic of excessive food. Lifestyle diseases such as heart disease, stroke, artery blockages, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers which are associated with habits such as unhealthy eating, plague countries like the United States of America.
Having an abundance of food does exempt a country from suffering from food-related issues. A negative relationship with food can be seen to lead to fatalities, as studies show that, an obese person (considered to have a body mass over 300), has a higher mortality rate than people who are underweight. Data from the World Health Organisation states that approximately 3.4 million adults die every year as a result of being obese or overweight. With a steady and gradual rise in obesity across the globe, the latest estimates suggest that there a billion obese people globally; which is twice the rate that existed 20 years ago.
The country with the highest prevalence of obesity is Nauru with 61.0 of the population.
“Though America is not the most obese country in the world, North America still continues to lead the charts. While a majority of other countries that top of the list are small and sparsely populated countries. Mexico and the US continue to top the list in.”
World hunger and waste
Despite the excessive rates of food consumption and subsequently of food waste, world hunger has been on the increase.
“For the third year in a row, there has been a rise in world hunger. The absolute number of undernourished people, i.e. those facing chronic food deprivation, has increased to nearly 821 million in 2017, from around 804 million in 2016.”
Key facts about food waste:
Roughly one-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tonnes — gets lost or wasted.
Food losses and waste amount to roughly US$ 680 billion in industrialized countries and US$ 310 billion in developing countries.
Fruits and vegetables, plus roots and tubers have the highest wastage rates of any food.
Global quantitative food losses and waste per year are roughly 30% for cereals, 40-50% for root crops, fruits, and vegetables, 20% for oilseeds, meat and dairy plus 35% for fish.
According to FAO, the number of undernourished people has been on a steady rise since 2014, reaching an estimated 821 million in 2017. Recently, we have seen how war can affect malnutrition in countries like Yemen, which could be facing the worst famine in 100 years if air strikes led by the Syrian led coalition are not stopped. The three-year-long civil war in Yemen has left 13,000,000 people on the brink of starvation, and in three months’ time, the avoidable event of the “worst famine in 100 years” according to the UN could begin.
The Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen, Lise Grande, has said that as many as 13 million people could have died from starvationas a result of the civil war. More than 1000 people have already been killed in the fighting and 3 million internally displaced since the Gulf alliance began bombing the country in 2015 to oust the Shia Houthi rebels.
“The share of undernourished people in the world population – the prevalence of undernourishment, or PoU – may have reached 10.9 percent in 2017. Persistent instability in conflict-ridden regions, adverse climate events in many regions of the world and economic slowdowns that have affected more peaceful regions and worsened the food security, all help to explain this deteriorating situation.”
Zero hunger is an imitative run by FAO, whereby anyone can contribute into eliminating world hunger in 4 steps:
1. Don’t waste food
2. Produce more with less
3. Adopt a more healthy sustainable diet
4. Advocate for #Zerohunger
The Zero Hunger Challenge was launched by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2012. This was created as a bid to end hunger, eliminate all forms of malnutrition, and build inclusive and sustainable food system. On World Food Day, let’s help eradicate world hunger - participate in the zero hunger challenge today!