A publication launched by the FAO, WFP, WHO and UNICEF calls on governments to take urgent action to address malnutrition and obesity in Latin America and the Caribbean, where a 24% adult obesity rate is almost double the global average.
The publication recommends a series of measures for promoting healthier food environments.
The 2019 ‘Panorama of Food and Nutritional Security for Latin America and the Caribbean’ shows that, since 1975, adult obesity in Latin America and the Caribbean region has tripled, while one in four are going hungry. The rates of childhood and adolescent obesity also tripled between 1990 and 2016, and every year, 600,000 people in the region die from diet-related diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
The publication, which was launched on 12 November 2019, by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), calls on governments to take urgent action to address malnutrition across the region, indicating that the 24% obesity rate in the region is almost double the global level of 13.2%.
Ultra-processed food products are the fastest growing food trend in the region.
The report notes that ultra-processed food products represent the fastest growing trend in the region’s food sector, exposing the population to excessive amounts of sugar, sodium and fat. It explains how the domination of food processing industries in the region increases the availability of ultra-processed products in supermarkets, and how when affordability outweighs nutrition, the poor suffer the most.
The publication recommends a series of measures for promoting healthier food environments. They include:
- using taxation and other incentives that favor healthy foods;
- strengthening social protection systems;
- expanding school feeding programmes;
- regulating food advertising and marketing;
- improving food labeling;
- ensuring the safety and quality of food sold on the street; and
- reformulating the ingredients of certain products to ensure nutritional value.
The Panorama of Food and Nutritional Security 2019 also calls for political leadership to stem obesity in the region, noting that at least 13 countries in the region have taken measures in support of adequate food, eight have improved advertising regulations, and four have implemented food labeling laws. In the SDG on zero hunger (SDG 2), target 2.2 calls for ending all forms of malnutrition by 2030. [UN Press Release] [Publication: Panorama of Food and Nutritional Security 2019]