The annual celebration of World World Food Day is an effort to bring attention to these issues. This year, it aims to push people everywhere to take action, under the theme: “Our Actions Are Our Future.”
The celebration is intent on informing citizens, businesses and governments that dietary choices, from the products we consume individually, to planetary choices, including the reduction of our environmental footprints, can enable a movement of change.
Globalization and urbanization have had a staggering impact on human history, especially over the last decade. The world’s population living in urban areas was less than 5 percent in 1800. According to the the United Nations, that number increased to 47 percent by the year 2000. In ten years time, that number is expected to reach 65 percent.
As these shifts have taken place, we have witnessed dramatic changes in our diets and eating habits. The world has begun to abandon the traditions of preparing meals at home, which have historically been seasonal, plant-based and fibre-rich.
Preferring convenience, the world has turned to refined starches, sugars, fats, salt, processed foods, meat and animal-source products. In urban areas especially, consumers increasingly rely on supply chains of supermarkets, fast food outlets, street food vendors and take-away restaurants.
Dietary choices and sedentary lifestyles have pushed obesity into epidemic proportions not only in developed countries, but in low-income countries too, where hunger and obesity can co-exist.
Currently, 670 million adults and 160 million children suffer from obesity worldwide.
Astonishingly, over 820 million people suffer from hunger.
And this dichotomy is taking a toll on national health budgets, costing up to 2 trillion us dollars per year.
Poor diets are now are a leading cause of illness, linked to one fifth of all deaths worldwide.