‘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.


Lion Air crash victims’ families to rally as hunt for wreckage steps up

Updated 13 December 2018
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Lion Air crash victims’ families to rally as hunt for wreckage steps up

  • Lion Air is paying for a specialized ship to help lift the main wreckage of flight JT 610 and give investigators a better chance of finding the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) in a search that has lacked sophisticated equipment for the last month
  • The enhanced search will cost $2.8 million for the first 10 days

JAKARTA: Families of some of the 189 people killed in a Lion Air plane crash plan a protest rally in Indonesia on Thursday, while stalled efforts to bring the main wreckage to the surface and find the second black box are set to resume next week.
The Boeing Co. 737 MAX jet crashed into the Java Sea on Oct. 29 shortly after take-off from Jakarta, but the families expressed concern that the remains of 64 passengers have yet to be identified, with just 30 percent of the plane’s body found.
“The relatives hope that all members of our families who died in the accident can be found and their bodies buried in a proper way,” a group that says it represents about 50 families said in a statement.
“We hope the search for the victims will use vessels with sophisticated technology,” it added, ahead of the rally planned for outside the presidential palace in Jakarta.
Lion Air is paying for a specialized ship to help lift the main wreckage of flight JT 610 and give investigators a better chance of finding the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) in a search that has lacked sophisticated equipment for the last month, Reuters reported.
Indonesia’s national transport panel said the vessel was due to arrive on Monday.
The enhanced search will cost $2.8 million for the first 10 days, a source close to the airline said on Thursday, on condition of anonymity, adding that Lion Air is paying because the government does not have the budget.
A spokesman for Lion Air was unable to respond immediately to a request for comment.
“Funds for the CVR search will be borne by Lion Air which has signed a contract for a ship from a Singaporean company,” a finance ministry spokesman told Reuters.
Lion Air’s decision to foot the bill is a rare test of global norms regarding search independence, as such costs are typically paid by governments.
In this case, investigators said they had faced bureaucratic wrangling and funding problems before Lion Air stepped in.
Safety experts say it is unusual for one of the parties to help fund an investigation, required by UN rules to be independent, so as to ensure trust in any safety recommendations made.
There are also broader concerns about resources available for such investigations worldwide, coupled with the risk of agencies being ensnared in legal disputes.
The clock is ticking in the hunt for acoustic pings coming from the L3 Technologies Inc. cockpit voice recorder fitted to the jet. It has a 90-day beacon, the manufacturer’s online brochure shows.
The flight data recorder was retrieved three days after the crash, providing insight into aircraft systems and crew inputs, although the cause has yet to be determined.