‘What we’re eating is killing us’: global nutrition report

The researchers analyzed 194 countries and found that malnutrition could cost the world $3.5 trillion per year, while overweight and obesity could cost $500 billion annually. (File/Shutterstock)
Updated 29 November 2018
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‘What we’re eating is killing us’: global nutrition report

  • The report is an independently produced annual analysis of the state of the world’s nutrition
  • Progress has been “unacceptably slow,” the authors warned

BANGKOK: Poor diets are among the top causes of ill health globally, accounting for nearly one in five deaths, according to a study published on Thursday that called on governments and businesses to do more to improve eating habits.
Eating unhealthy food, or not having enough food — including children unable to breastfeed — contribute to widespread malnutrition, said researchers behind the latest Global Nutrition Report.
The report is an independently produced annual analysis of the state of the world’s nutrition.
“Diets are one of the top risk factors of morbidity and mortality in the world — more than air pollution, more than smoking,” said Jessica Fanzo, a professor at Johns Hopkins University and a lead author.
“What we’re eating is killing us. So something needs to get us back on track with our food system,” she said on the sidelines of a global food conference in Thailand’s capital, Bangkok.
She said a lack of knowledge and affordability of nutritious food, as well as ineffective supply chains, are among the factors that contribute to poor diets.
The researchers analyzed 194 countries and found that malnutrition could cost the world $3.5 trillion per year, while overweight and obesity could cost $500 billion annually.
Every country is battling some form of malnutrition — be it children who are anemic or too short for their age, or women who are overweight but undernourished due to unhealthy diets — and adolescence obesity rates are rising, the report said.
Most countries are unlikely to meet nine global targets on nutrition that they have signed up to achieve by 2025 including adult obesity and diabetes, anemia and child health.
Progress has been “unacceptably slow,” the authors warned.
However, there is now better and more detailed data, which has created an unprecedented opportunity to craft effective responses, according to the report.
It cited Amsterdam, which faced a weight crisis among young people and set up programs in 2012 to prevent and treat obesity, as well as facilitate learning and research on the issue.
Initiatives included public drinking fountains, restrictions on food advertising and guidance for healthy snacks in schools. Today, the prevalence of overweight and obesity in Amsterdam is leveling off, the report said.
Reducing food waste could also improve nutrition, said Sir John Beddington, co-chair of the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition, an independent group of experts.
“Each year more than half of all the fruits and vegetables produced globally are lost or wasted,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by email.
Fanzo noted that nutrition is crucial to building up immunity against disease, as well as mental cognition.
“You have to care about what people are eating if you want to build the intellect of your country,” she said.


Police slam US actor, say he staged racist attack to boost career

Updated 22 February 2019
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Police slam US actor, say he staged racist attack to boost career

  • Jussie Smollett, the African-American actor who stars on Fox music industry drama ‘Empire,’ went from victim to suspect after he reported an assault late last month
  • Smollett accused of first sending himself a fake threatening letter and then staging an attack to tap into Americans’ anxieties over political and racial divisions

CHICAGO: An American TV actor was criminally charged Thursday for allegedly masterminding an elaborate “publicity stunt” that sought to exploit the “pain and anger of racism” with a staged assault on the streets of Chicago.

It was the latest twist in a weeks-long saga that has seen 36-year-old Jussie Smollett, the African-American actor who stars on Fox music industry drama “Empire,” go from victim to suspect after he reported an assault late last month.

An incredulous Chicago police chief accused Smollett of first sending himself a fake threatening letter and then staging an attack to tap into Americans’ anxieties over political and racial divisions, because he was allegedly “dissatisfied with his salary.”

In a sign of the national attention the case has drawn, President Donald Trump weighed in Thursday, taking issue with the fact Smollett claimed his assailants invoked the president’s “Make America Great Again” slogan along with racist slurs during the purported attack.

“‘Empire’ actor Jussie Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career,” Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson told an emotionally-charged news conference — during which he lashed out angrily at the actor for sullying the city’s image.

“Smollett paid $3,500 to stage this attack and drag Chicago’s reputation through the mud in the process,” he said. “This publicity stunt was a scar that Chicago didn’t earn and certainly didn’t deserve.”

Smollett turned himself in early Thursday morning, was arrested and charged with a felony count of disorderly conduct for filing a false police report, and was granted $100,000 bond.

He was freed from jail late in the afternoon, and said nothing to the throng of media. If convicted, he faces up to three years in prison.

His legal team pushed back hard later Thursday, claiming the police press conference had been prejudicial and “the presumption of innocence, a bedrock in the search for justice, was trampled upon.”

“Today we witnessed an organized law enforcement spectacle that has no place in the American legal system,” attorney Jack Prior told AFP in a statement.

“Mr. Smollett is a young man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence and feels betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing.”

Smollett had claimed that two masked men beat him late at night in downtown Chicago, poured bleach on him and tied a rope around his neck — but police grew suspicious of his account after they failed to corroborate it.

Trump took aim at the actor for having tarnished his supporters, tweeting: “what about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and dangerous comments!?“

Meanwhile, Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox Television, which produce “Empire” and had stood by the actor, said “we understand the seriousness of this matter” and “are considering our options.”

Authorities said the two men who staged the attack with Smollett were brothers Ola and Abel Osundairo, who have both previously worked on “Empire,” and were acquaintances of the actor — while one provided him with drugs.

The brothers have cooperated with police since their arrest late last week and have not been charged with a crime.

Smollett allegedly first concocted a false threatening letter he had sent to himself — which is under a separate FBI investigation — and when that did not get enough attention, paid the brothers to have the assault staged.

Prosecutor Risa Lanier detailed an elaborate plot that Smollett allegedly orchestrated with exacting detail — telling the brothers when and how to attack him, including pointing out a street camera he assumed would capture the event, but was in fact pointing in a different direction.

The allegations were backed by a mountain of evidence, including a cashed check that Smollett wrote to pay for the stunt, authorities said.

Initial news of Smollett’s claims led to widespread condemnation and shock, and an outpouring of support from celebrities and politicians alike, including Democratic 2020 presidential candidates Cory Booker and Kamala Harris who denounced “an attempted modern day lynching.”

Trump initially described the alleged attack as “horrible.”

Since then, Smollett’s story has become a cautionary tale in an era where incomplete information is quickly spread via social media.

Opinion writers have complained about a rush to judgment, and politicians, celebrities and nonprofit groups have felt pressure to explain their initial reactions.

The president of the LGBT advocacy group Human Rights Campaign said the Smollett news was “both devastating and frustrating.”

“I want to ask everyone feeling angry, hurt and disappointed to channel that into productive activism — because there are thousands targeted by hate violence each year who need our help,” Chad Griffin tweeted.