Hunger, malnutrition, and consequently obesity, are on the rise across the Caribbean and Latin America, the United Nations revealed in a report during the 2018 Panorama of Food and Nutrition Security in Chile Wednesday.
“Obesity is growing uncontrollably. Each year we are adding 3.6 million obese people to this region. Two hundred and fifty million people live with overweight, 60% of the regional population. The situation is appalling,” said Julio Berdegue, a regional representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
Statistics show that in Latin America and the Caribbean, obesity affects nearly 25 percent of adults and 73 percent of children under the age of five.
The regional economic and social disparity in Indigenous and lower class communities puts nearly 9 percent of women or 19 million women, and 6.9 percent of Indigenous men at risk for obesity, the report said.
Medical reports have shown evidence of obesity, among other diseases, in impoverished areas are due to a high-calorie diet, which, though more affordable, is dangerously low in nutritional value.
The study compiled by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and the World Food Program (WFP) urged state authorities to introduce policies which will level the economic field and help promote affordable, healthy, and sustainable food systems.
WHO/PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne said that universal health care would help ensure proper medical care and preventive measures are executed.
“A multisectoral approach is needed, one that ensures access to balanced and healthy foods while addressing other social factors that also impact on these forms of malnutrition, such as access to education, water and sanitation, and health services,” said Etienne.
Since 2015, the number of malnourished people has increased from 200 thousand to 400 thousand in 2017, the majority in Argentina, Bolivia, and Venezuela. However, across the continent, Latin Americans continue to struggle with food security.
The study reports that in Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, and Peru the rate of obesity remains unchanged.