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Poor Countries have high levels of Obesity and Under-nourishment

Syed Umarullah HussainiWeb Editor

16th Dec, 2019. 12:52 pm
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A new study in health field has revealed that poor countries in the world have the highest ratio of obesity as well as under-nourishment, however: ultra processed food is the main cause of the issue.

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in its report quoted the latest health findings on health ratio in poor countries by The Lancet.

It detailed that poor countries in the world are dealing with high levels of obesity as well as under-nourishment.

The authors of the report has urged the change in modern food system.

The report evaluated that nearly 2.3 billion people are overweight, and more than 150 million children have stunted growth.

Many low and middle-income countries are facing these two issues at once – known as the ‘double burden of malnutrition’.

This means that 20% of people are overweight, 30% of children under four are not growing properly, and 20% of women are classified as thin.

BBC reported that communities and families can be affected by both forms of malnutrition in poor countries, as well as individual people at different points in their lives.

According to the report, 45 out of 123 countries were affected by the burden in the 1990s, and 48 out of 126 countries in the 2010s.

By the 2010s, 14 countries with some of the lowest incomes in the world had developed this ‘double problem’ since the 1990s.

The report authors say action should be taken by governments, the United Nations and academics to address the problem, and it points the finger at changing diets.

The way people eat, drink and move is changing. Increasing numbers of supermarkets, easy availability of less nutritious food, as well as a decrease in physical activity, are leading to more people becoming overweight.

And these changes are affecting low and middle-income countries, as well as high-income ones.

Although stunted growth of children in many countries is becoming less frequent, eating ultra-processed foods early in life is linked to poor growth.

“We are facing a new nutrition reality,” says lead author Dr Francesco Branca, director of the department of nutrition for health and development at the World Health Organization.

“We can no longer characterize 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.”

Dr Branca said changing this needed changes in food systems – from production and processing, through trade and distribution, pricing, marketing, and labelling, to consumption and waste.

“All relevant policies and investments must be radically re-examined,” he said.

What is a high-quality diet?

According to the report, it contains:

  • lots of fruits and vegetables, wholegrains, fibre, nuts, and seeds
  • modest amounts of animal source foods
  • minimal amounts of processed meats
  • minimal amounts of food and beverages high in energy and added sugar, saturated fat, trans fat and salt.

The report concluded that high quality diets reduce the risk of undernourishment, throughencouraging healthy growth, development, and the body’s protection against diseases.

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