Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search

 

As Pandemic Rattles Global Food System, Report Deems Mass Malnutrition World's Top Killer

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to expose and exacerbate enduring issues and inequities in the global food and health systems, a United Nations-backed report released Tuesday declares the double burden of malnutrition—undernourishment and obesity—the leading cause of death worldwide.

The foreword of the 2020 Global Nutrition Report puts the assessment in the context of Covid-19, which has not only killed over 287,000 and infected over 4.2 million people around the world but also revealed "the vulnerability and weaknesses of our already fragile food systems" that are "stressed by increasing climate extremes."

Although the report was written before the current public health crisis, "its emphasis on nutritional well-being for all, particularly the most vulnerable, has a heightened significance in the face of this new global threat," the foreword says. "The need for more equitable, resilient, and sustainable food and health systems has never been more urgent."

The foreword continues:

Covid-19 does not treat us equally. Undernourished people have weaker immune systems, and may be at greater risk of severe illness due to the virus. At the same time, poor metabolic health, including obesity and diabetes, is strongly linked to worse Covid-19 outcomes, including risk of hospitalization and death.

People who already suffer as a consequence of inequities—including the poor, women and children, those living in fragile or conflict-affected states, minorities, refugees, and the unsheltered—are particularly affected by both the virus and the impact of containment measures. It is essential that they are protected, especially when responses are implemented.

In a statement Tuesday, report co-chair and Tufts University professor Renata Micha echoed the foreword's call for learning from the pandemic and pursuing "well-functioning, well-funded, and coordinated preventive public health strategies that pay attention to food, nutrition, health, and social protection."

"Good nutrition is an essential defense strategy to protect populations against epidemics, relieve the burden on our health systems, and ultimately save lives," Micha said. "The findings of the 2020 Global Nutrition Report make clear that tackling malnutrition should be at the center of our global health response."

wh

According to the report, one in three people worldwide are overweight or obese, one in nine are hungry, and almost a quarter of all children under age five are stunted. Although obesity is "increasing rapidly" in nearly every nation, people in poorer countries more commonly are underweight while those in wealthier countries are more often overweight.

Resolving the global problems of poor diets and resulting malnutrition requires addressing inequities across the entirety of the world's food systems, which currently "do not enable people to make healthy food choices," the report says. "The vast majority of people today simply cannot access or afford a healthy diet."

The report details the necessity of reducing the production of highly processed foods and staple grains such as maize, rice, and wheat while increasing the availability of affordable and locally produced fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains.

"Natural resources, ecosystems, and climate change affect food production, and in turn the quality and quantity of food available to consumers," says the report. "At the same time, consumer choices and demand influence the type of food produced and therefore potentially increase pressure on ecosystems and can contribute to climate change."

The assessment points out that "nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizer applications can affect the quality of food" while animal-sourced foods have a significant impact on greenhouse gases. As the Guardian reported Tuesday:

The report's conclusions echo calls by climate scientists for a transformation of food and land management, after a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) last year concluded that poor land use is responsible for a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions.

Cynthia Rosenzweig, a climate expert at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and the author of the food security chapter in the IPCC's report on land and climate change, said: "It is really a call to action for countries and international organizations, NGOs, and the whole system, to create a transformation in the food system."

"Malnutrition is a threat multiplier. I think it has been ignored that people who are malnourished are likely to have lower immune systems."

The assessment also emphasizes the importance of addressing nutrition inequities in the world's health systems, noting that "strikingly, worldwide, only 4.4 million of the 16.6 million children under five years of age with severe acute malnutrition currently have access to treatment."

"Global commitment to universal health coverage is an opportunity to integrate nutrition care fully into health systems," the report says. "Essential nutrition services—preventive and curative—should be universally available to all, with a focus on those who need it most."

The report calls for reforming how healthcare is provided globally, stating that a focus on "the medical, drug-treatment-based model of disease that ignores fundamental causes such as diet and lifestyle" has led to a "malnutrition epidemic that is sweeping the world."

U.N. Assistant Secretary-General Gerda Verburg, coordinator of the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement and a member of the new report's stakeholder group, warned Tuesday that "2020 must represent a turning point for nutrition."

"As we look to reinforce our resilience to global stresses, nutrition must become a key component of any emergency or long-term response," Verburg said. "Investing in nutrition, renewing and expanding commitments, and strengthening accountability has now become urgent if we want to prepare our systems for future shocks, and avoid a reversal of gain."

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Eric Zuesse: U.S. Empire: Biden And Kerry Gave Orders To Ukraine’s President

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at Strategic Culture On May 19th, an implicit international political warning was issued, but it wasn’t issued between countries; it was issued between allied versus opposed factions within each of two countries: U.S. and Ukraine. ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Budget Cockups In The Time Of Coronavirus: Reporting Errors And Australia’s JobKeeper Scheme

Hell has, in its raging fires, ringside seats for those who like their spreadsheets. The seating, already peopled by those from human resources, white collar criminals and accountants, becomes toastier for those who make errors with those spreadsheets. ... More>>


The Dig - COVID-19: Just Recovery

The COVID-19 crisis is compelling us to kick-start investment in a regenerative and zero-carbon future. We were bold enough to act quickly to stop the virus - can we now chart a course for a just recovery? More>>

The Conversation: Are New Zealand's New COVID-19 Laws And Powers Really A Step Towards A Police State?

Reaction to the New Zealand government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and resultant lockdown has ranged from high praise to criticism that its actions were illegal and its management chaotic. More>>


Keith Rankin: Universal Versus Targeted Assistance, A Muddled Dichotomy

The Commentariat There is a regular commentariat who appear on places such as 'The Panel' on Radio New Zealand (4pm on weekdays), and on panels on television shows such as Newshub Nation (TV3, weekends) and Q+A (TV1, Mondays). Generally, these panellists ... More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Welcome Deaths: Coronavirus And The Open Plan Office

For anybody familiar with that gruesome manifestation of the modern work place, namely the open plan office, the advent of coronavirus might be something of a relief. The prospects for infection in such spaces is simply too great. You are at risk from ... More>>

Caitlin Johnstone: Do You Consent To The New Cold War?

The world's worst Putin puppet is escalating tensions with Russia even further, with the Trump administration looking at withdrawal from more nuclear treaties in the near future. In addition to planning on withdrawing from the Open Skies Treaty ... More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Why Thinking Makes It So: Donald Trump’s Obamagate Fixation

The “gate” suffix has been wearing thin since the break-in scandal that gave it its birth. Since Watergate, virtually anything dubious and suggestive, and much more besides, is suffixed. Which brings us to the issue of President Donald Trump’s ... More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Ethics (and Some Of The Economics) Of Lifting The Lockdown

As New Zealand passes the half-way mark towards moving out of Level Four lockdown, the trade-offs involved in life-after-lockdown are starting to come into view. All very well for National’s finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith to claim that “The number one priority we have is to get out of the lockdown as soon as we can”…Yet as PM Jacinda Ardern pointed out a few days ago, any crude trade-off between public health and economic well-being would be a false choice... More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Brutal Choices: Anders Tegnell And Sweden’s Herd Immunity Goal

If the title of epidemiological czar were to be created, its first occupant would have to be Sweden’s Anders Tegnell. He has held sway in the face of sceptics and concern that his “herd immunity” approach to COVID-19 is a dangerous, and breathtakingly ... More>>


 
 
 
 
 


 
 
 
  • PublicAddress
  • Pundit
  • Kiwiblog