Unhealthy global food systems are fueling high levels of malnutrition and causing a world health crisis. The World Health Organization is ensuring that more is done so that people have enough to eat and access to the right foods.
“Malnutrition is a complex issue, but it is the main cause of death and disease in the world,” says Branca, Director of the Department of Nutrition for Health and Development at WHO.
Malnutrition is a world-wide issue
Millions of people around the world suffer from different forms of malnutrition. 1.9 billion adults are overweight, while 462 million are underweight.
Deaths often occur in low and middle income countries linked to under nutrition, such as in South Asia and Africa. Around one in ten children are born with a low birth weight. Approximately 45% deaths among children under five occur because of this reason.
“Nutrition is the main cause of death and disease in the world.” Dr Branca says the developmental, economic, social and medical impacts of malnutrition are serious and lasting. He believes events such as World Food Day, and International Day for the Eradication of Poverty will raise awareness to combat the problem.
Healthy foods must be accessible and affordable
“Cheap food tends not to be healthy food; we need government policies that make healthy food more available and affordable. We need to see changes in the public sector so that government organizations lead by example and purchase the right food.”
The right foods need to be made available by changing the content of food products dictated by large producers.
Awareness of malnutrition
Awareness through high-profile campaigns will continue to be raised. “Awareness of climate change is rising among politicians thanks to a global movement and we need to see something similar around food”, says Dr Branca.