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Fat chance? No. Food scarcity is on the down, but obesity is on ...


Fat chance? No. Food scarcity is on the down, but obesity is on the up

Undernourishment is falling. However, people are not seeking nutrition-rich foods, but low-cost, unhealthy ones

David Fickling

You might not notice it from the way inflation, conflict and the pandemic have driven up the cost of food in recent years, but the spectre of hunger that has haunted humanity for millennia is moving closer to being vanquished.

In middle-income countries, the number of people undernourished fell by about a quarter, or 162-million, between 2006 and 2020. That’s more than enough to offset the 43-million increase in low-income nations, which are mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa.

In China, home to most of history’s biggest famines, the prevalence of childhood stunting, a typical indicator of malnutrition, is now at levels comparable to the US. The shift in India has been just as dramatic. In 2006 more than a third of women were underweight. By 2019 that figure had been cut almost in half...

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