‘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

‘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.


Anti-government protesters block roads in Pakistan as unrest mounts

Updated 14 November 2019

Anti-government protesters block roads in Pakistan as unrest mounts

  • Tens of thousands of demonstrators joined a sit-in in Islamabad on Oct. 31 and camped there for about two weeks
  • Firebrand cleric leading the protests called for nationwide demonstrations

ISLAMABAD: Anti-government protesters in Pakistan blocked major roads and highways across the country on Thursday in a bid to force Prime Minister Imran Khan to resign.
The demonstrators — led by the leader of opposition party Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), the firebrand cleric Maulana Fazlur Rehman — have taken to the streets as the start of their “Plan B” to topple the government and ensure a general election after failing to push Khan out through a fortnight-long sit-in in Islamabad, which ended on Wednesday.
That same day, Rehman told his party workers to spread their protests to other parts of the country.
“This protest will continue not for a day but for a month, if our leadership instructs,” said JUI-F Secretary-General, Maulana Nasir Mehmood, to a group of protesters who blocked the country’s main Karakoram Highway — an important trade route between Pakistan and China that also connects the country’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province with its northern areas.
The JUI-F protesters also blocked other key routes in KP and a major highway connecting the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan. The party’s Balochistan chapter also announced its intention to block the highway connecting Pakistan to neighboring Iran.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators joined the sit-in in Islamabad on Oct. 31 and camped there for about two weeks, demanding the prime minister’s resignation and fresh polls in the country following allegations of electoral fraud last year and the mismanagement of Pakistan’s economy. The government denies both charges.
Rehman is a veteran politician who was a member of the National Assembly for 20 years. He enjoys support in religious circles across the country. His party has yet to share a detailed plan regarding which roads will be closed when, or how long this new phase of protests will continue.
The JUI-F and other opposition parties have been trying to capitalize on the anger and frustration of the public against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf ruling party, which came to power last year promising 10 million new jobs for the youth, 5 million low-cost houses, and economic reforms to benefit the middle class.
Since then, Pakistan’s economy has nosedived, witnessing double-digit inflation and rampant unemployment. The government signed a $6-billion bailout deal with the International Monetary Fund to stave off a balance-of-payments crisis.
“Prime Minister Imran Khan has stabilized the deteriorating economy, and Maulana Fazlur Rehman ‘Plan B’ will fail like his ‘Plan A,’” Firdous Ashiq Awan, special assistant to the prime minister on information and broadcasting, said in a statement to the press.

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