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FAO reports worrying figures on hunger and obesity in the region

Published:Monday | September 10, 2018 | 12:00 AM

For the third consecutive year, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has found an increase in the number of people suffering from hunger around the world, with Latin America and the Caribbean also hurting.

According to the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2018 (SOFI) globally, almost 821 million people - approximately one in nine - were victims of hunger in 2017, an increase of 17 million in relation to the previous year.

In the Caribbean and Latin America, 39.3 million people were living undernourished, an increase of 400,000 people since 2016.

"In the region, we are stuck in the fight against hunger. In 2014, hunger affected 38.5 million, and in 2017 it exceeded 39 million. These figures are a strong and clear call to redouble efforts at all levels," said Julio Berdegue, FAO's regional representative.

This year's SOFI was developed by FAO together with the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the United Nations Children's Fund, the World Food Program and the World Health Organization.

In Latin America, severe food insecurity jumped from 7.6 per cent in 2016 to 9.8 per cent in 2017.

The good news for the region is that it has a very low rate of acute malnutrition in children (1.3 per cent), equivalent to 700,000 children under the age of five, well below the global average of 7.5 per cent.

The news is much less encouraging on the issue of obesity. According to the SOFI, practically one out of every four inhabitants of the region lives with obesity: In 2016, obesity affected 24.1 per cent of the population, an increase of 2.4 per cent since 2012.