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Malnutrition's many forms hitting developing countries

Monday December 16th, 2019

The world is facing a multiple malnutrition problem caused by obesity, poor quality diet and under-nutrition, the World Health Organisation warns today.

Some 48 countries now suffer from these problems in Africa, Asia and the Pacific and the number is increasing, according to an analysis, published in The Lancet.

This means that some people move from starvation to obesity, increasing the risks of harmful effects, according to the study.

Some 2.3 billion children and adults are overweight and more than 150 million children are stunted, according to the report.

The researchers call for a series of actions to improve nutrition, starting with improved antenatal care and support for breast-feeding. New agricultural and food system policies should have healthy diets as a main goal, they say.

Dr Francesco Branca, from WHO, said: “We are facing a new nutrition reality.

“We can no longer characterise countries as low-income and undernourished, or high-income and only concerned with obesity. All forms of malnutrition have a common denominator – food systems that fail to provide all people with healthy, safe, affordable, and sustainable diets. Changing this will require action across food systems – from production and processing, through trade and distribution, pricing, marketing, and labelling, to consumption and waste."

“Without a profound food system transformation, the economic, social, and environmental costs of inaction will hinder the growth and development of individuals and societies for decades to come.”

Fellow analyst Professor Corinna Hawkes, of the Centre for Food Policy at the University of London, UK, said: “Continuing with business-as-usual is not fit for purpose in the new nutrition reality. The good news is that there are some powerful opportunities to use the same platforms to address different forms of malnutrition. The time is now to seize these opportunities for ‘double duty action’ to get results."

Lancet 16 December 2019

http://www.thelancet.com/series/double-burden-malnutrition

Tags: Africa | Asia | Diet & Food | World Health

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