Poor diet bigger health hazard than killer diseases: UN body

Poor diet bigger health hazard than killer diseases: UN body


  1. A recent report released by United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO) found that poor quality diet is a greater threat to public health across the world than malaria, tuberculosis or measles etc.

Important Facts:

  1. About the report:
  • The report was released by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) co-authored with the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition.
  • The report was titled “Preventing nutrient loss and waste across the food system: Policy action for high quality diets”.
  • The report stated that “eating more of the nutrient rich food already being produced would result in savings to land, water and energy consumption tied to food production, and resources used in industrial food fortification.
  1. Findings of the report:
  • The diet-related factors now account for six of the top nine contributors to the global burden of disease.
  • Globally, in 2016, one in five deaths was associated with poor diets including increasing non-communicable diseases (NCDs) associated with the rise of obesity, also linked to poor-quality diets.
  • Though the world is producing more food than it needs, an estimated three billion people have inadequate diets.
  • Every year, approximately 1.3 billion metric tonnes of food produced for human consumption (one third of the total) never reaches the consumer’s plate or bowl,” stated the report.
  • In addition, the scale and pace of food production would not need to increase at the rates currently required to meet the demand of an additional 1 billion people by 2030.
  • The world’s total supply of calories has never been greater in human history thanks to remarkable gains in agricultural productivity.
  • The traditional response to ensuring food security was to promote higher output of staple crops such as grains, tubers and starchy foods to provide nutrient energy (kilocalories).
  • The report recommended higher consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables and greater dietary diversity to tackle micronutrient deficiencies.
  • Food wastage: Across all food groups, half of all food loss and waste was associated with nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts, stated the report,
  • About one third was associated with staple crops like grains and roots. Around 25% of all meat produced, equivalent to 75 million cows, and over 30% of the total fish and seafood harvested each year is lost or wasted.
  • In low-income countries, food is mostly lost during harvesting, storage, processing and transportation, while in high-income nations the waste is at retail and consumer level. Together, they directly impact the number of calories and nutrients actually available for consumption, stated the FAO.
  • With the value of global food lost or wasted annually, estimated to be around $1 trillion, cutting down on waste would also yield major economic benefits.
  • The policymakers around the world are increasingly acknowledging the challenge of meeting the rising demand for a healthy diet rather than just calorie sufficiency.


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