Even though fruits and vegetables remain prohibitive in many countries, “public support for grains and sugar, combined with private marketing and smart packaging, is encouraging a shift to unhealthy diets in low- and middle-income countries. “.
An opinion piece published by the World Bank as part of its World Bank blogs claims that the fact that the outbreak of the coronavirus has surprised several countries with their nutritional guard “down” may not only lead to death rates higher than would otherwise have been the case. but is also likely to significantly increase the âburdenâ of restoring the health of victims.
The May 13 article, written by Bank officials Muhammad Ali Pate and Martien van Nieuwkoop, who are respectively directors of health, nutrition and population and agriculture and food, states that the pandemic has raised the stakes for consumers, producers and policy makers around the world. , due to the fact that the long-standing and widespread habit of unhealthy eating contributes to pre-existing conditions that put many people at greater risk. What compounds the problem, say the authors of the article, is that “illness also means loss of income.”
The authors further argue that existing food-related illnesses in COVID-19 victims may put greater strain on care and treatment facilities, as people with pre-existing illnesses related to COVID-19 diets such as “severe obesity, heart disease and diabetes, suffer more severe consequences from COVID-19, including more severe illness and an increased need for intensive health care, such as ventilators.” “
And the article predicts that given the current state of affairs, global inequalities in food and nutrition are about to worsen. He notes that, aside from the fact that the World Food Program has warned of “a potential doubling of acute food insecurity in low- and middle-income countries this year due to lost income and remittances. Â», The 2008 experience also indicates a nutritional crisis.
The authors say that apart from serious illnesses and deaths resulting directly from COVID-19, the pandemic is also endangering the state of health of countries due to “disrupted health and nutrition services, loss of life. jobs and income, disruption of the local food supply. chains, and as a direct consequence of infections among the poor and vulnerable. There is also âevidence that the sale of snacks and non-perishable foods increases rapidly during the crisis, to the detriment of fresh foods, such as vegetables and fruits, and foods high in protein, such as legumes, fish and meat. ââ¦ With junk food manufacturers seeing the crisis’ as an opportunity to expand their market shareâ.
And against the backdrop of the dual scourge of pervasive challenges of malnutrition and the current outbreak of the coronavirus, the article recommends that countries give higher priority to adopting “policies that ensure food at affordable prices for people. more vulnerable â. He notes that various international organizations, including FAO, IFAD, the World Bank and the World Food Program have joined agriculture ministers from countries around the world, especially Latin America and the Caribbean, in calling on countries food exporters to avoid “trade disruptions and ensure that food and agricultural inputs cross borders.” These initiatives, he adds, “must be complemented by measures to keep the production, processing and marketing of national foods functional and safe, despite social distancing and movement restrictions.”
Current circumstances also highlight the need “to go beyond high calorie staple foods and ensure better nutrition to build people’s resilience and reduce their risks of pre-existing diet-related illnesses and diseases. food origin. On the agricultural side, this can take many forms, ranging from the promotion of vegetable gardens, the cultivation of bio-fortified crops and the diversification of foods produced for domestic consumption, to the improvement of cold chains for food. more perishable nutrients, modernizing fresh produce markets and investing in food security. . “