Nutrition food

Two Reasons Why Three Billion People Are Not Getting Adequate Food – Food Tank

A recent note from the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition addresses two huge contributors to poor diets: food loss and waste. According to the World Health Organization, poor diet is responsible for 20% of deaths worldwide. Due to high levels of food loss and waste, particularly of nutrient-dense perishable foods, up to three billion people consume poor quality diets that lead to micronutrient malnutrition as well as increased levels of ‘obesity. The Global Panel, an independent international group of leaders from around the world, is committed to making safe, high-quality and healthy diets affordable and accessible to people around the world.

Food losses in the supply chain limit the availability of nutritious foods to consumers and increase the costs of products that ultimately reach the market, creating significant public health risks. Reducing food waste, particularly in retail establishments and consumers’ homes, can also increase the availability of nutritious foods. With a host of illnesses and diseases linked to poor diets, access to nutritious food is essential to ensuring that enough nutrients, not just enough calories, are available to feed a growing population. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, around 1.3 billion tonnes of food are lost or wasted each year in global food systems. The Global Panel’s brief outlines key areas of intervention requiring urgent action to address these critical issues.

“Food loss and waste have become significant barriers to achieving food and nutrition security goals,” says Emmy Simmons, senior nonresident adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on the Global Food Security and global panel member, for Food Reservoir. “While not all food loss and waste can be avoided, actions that contribute to more effective management of the quantity and quality of the food supply – reducing loss and waste – will result in healthier diets and better nutrition,” adds Simmons.

According to the Global Panel, nutrient loss occurs when the quantity or quality of food decreases due to inefficiencies in the production, harvesting, handling, transportation and storage of food for human consumption. This also includes foods contaminated with microorganisms, such as E.coli, which must be discarded. Food waste, however, refers to food that would otherwise be edible but is discarded due to strict grading and sorting for aesthetic purposes, excessive purchase of perishable items, consumer habits and disposal after meals of uneaten portions. Speaking to Food Tank, K. Srinath Reddy, Chairman of the Public Health Foundation of India and a member of the global panel, explained that efforts should “emphasize minimizing post-harvest losses of fruits, vegetables and cereals by improving harvesting, storage and transportation methods,” adding that “preventing damage from pests, rodents, microbial and fungal attacks is also a priority.”

Nutrient-poor diets can harm the development of children and adolescents, increase the risk of heart disease, and reduce learning ability and productivity. Six of the nine major contributors to the global burden of disease are due to diet-related factors. Reddy told Food Tank that “there is now overwhelming evidence to show that dietary factors drive the many biological changes that lead to heart disease, stroke and other forms of blood vessel disease. “. Reddy emphasized the importance of the food system, saying “the food system is more important to people’s health than the hospital system.”

Food loss and waste also have significant economic effects that add additional challenges. Simmons points out that “high rates of food loss and waste increase the prices of these products, reducing the ability of low-income consumers to afford them.”

Climate change adds uncertainty to the already risky business of food production. “Producing food – growing crops, raising animals, fishing – is a risky business and climatic variables constitute a large part of the risk,” says Simmons. Changing environmental conditions such as late onset of rains, temperature changes, insect predation and storms make crops and farmers vulnerable. Innovative production and processing technologies can help producers cope with such variability and reduce losses at the farm level and in post-harvest handling operations. Research and development activities can provide new knowledge to make the food supply system more resilient to climate challenges.

Currently, poorly managed food production systems contribute to environmental degradation. Compensating for food loss and waste by increasing production only worsens degradation. “Reducing food waste preserves our nutritional resources, protects the universal availability and affordability of healthy food products, and helps us avoid environmental impact on the food system, which is vulnerable to climate change,” Reddy tells Food Tank.

With all of these challenges to global food and nutrition security and the urgent need to improve the quality of diets to be consistent with public health goals, the Global Panel’s policy brief has four priority areas for action. These include educating people at all levels of the food system, including consumers, to prioritize reducing food loss and waste, taking practical steps to reduce these problems, improving infrastructure that supports an efficient and well-functioning food system and encourages innovative solutions. to retain nutrients in the system. Solving the crisis of excessive food loss and waste will require action at all levels: household, community, city, national and international. Although some companies and countries are making progress, Simmons adds that “there is still a long way to go in virtually every region of the world to ensure that everyone has access to safe, nutritious and affordable food. Making food waste and loss reduction a priority will help achieve this goal.