By Muhammad Luqman
The Asia-Pacific region, home to most of the world’s undernourished people, needs urgent action to improve diets and reset its food systems which are critical to the delivery of healthy, nutritious foods, according to a report of Food and Agriculture Ogrganization.
“There is a pressing need to tackle malnutrition alongside further promotion of the consumption of healthier foods while curbing the growth in consumption of unhealthy foods”, the Rome-based UN Organization said.
In addition to further investment in agriculture, the report also underlines an urgent need to step up investment in other areas to tackle malnutrition, such as improvements to sanitation, access to safe drinking water, improving diets during the first 1,000 days of life and policies and promotions to increase consumption of diverse nutrient-rich foods.
While food security has improved for millions of people in the Asia-Pacific region, hunger and malnutrition appear to be on the rise in some areas, the report warns. The latest figures indicate roughly half-a-billion people are undernourished in Asia and the Pacific.
The situation is particularly dire for children below the age of five. Overall, one-in-four suffers from stunting. However, the report also finds that, during the last 15 years, obesity is on the rise, with “significant increases” in the prevalence of overweight children, particularly in South Asia (from three percent to seven percent) and Oceania (from five percent to nearly ten percent).
The FAO report also highlighted a call for more innovations to stem food loss and food waste, in a cost-effective manner, which could also play an important part in improving overall food systems.
Although the prevalence of hunger has increased in some parts of the region, the 2030 goal is still within reach.
By Muhammad Luqman