More people in the world are now dying from obesity than malnutrition, anti-poverty campaigners say. And this is not a result of scarcity of resources, but rather a result of poor distribution, wastage and rising prices that made food unaffordable. Something needs to be done, and design may have a role to play...
There were 1.5 billion dangerously overweight people worldwide last year, while 925 million were underfed, according to the Red Cross. The figures were denounced as a ‘shocking’ demonstration that the world produces enough food but people still go hungry. The Red Cross called it a ‘double-edged’ scandal that fewer people died of starvation than were being killed by ‘excess nutrition’.
The organisation’s Bekele Geleta said: "If the free interplay of market forces has produced an outcome where 15 per cent of humanity are hungry while 20 per cent are overweight, something has gone wrong somewhere". The problem is highlighted in the organization’s annual World Disasters Report, which says the world is facing a growing food crisis.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said hunger existed not because there was a lack of food globally but because of poor distribution, wastage and rising prices that made food unaffordable. Food prices have spiked globally this year because of speculative commodity trading and climate change, it added.
Meredith Alexander, head of the HungerFree campaign at ActionAid, said: "We have always known that hunger is a man-made tragedy, not a result of natural scarcity. At a time when almost 1 billion people go to bed hungry every night, the Red Cross’s latest figures show that another 1.5 billion are obese."
CEO of INDEX: Design to Improve Life® Kigge Hvid says about the man-made tragedy: "I very much agree with the statement of Red Cross and HungerFree campaign. In our daily work, our organization comes across many good solutions to problems as severe and complex as the ones regarding obesity and hunger, and these solutions are based on entirely new approaches to old problems. We do believe that the Design to Improve Life community has a lot to offer with regards to better solutions - obviously not alone - but working in cross disciplinary teams with other professional such as economists, logistics people, engineers, nutrition experts, educators, governments and aid organizations."
Facts and statistics about obesity:
- Worldwide obesity has more than doubled since 1980.
- In 2008, 1.5 billion adults, 20 and older, were overweight.
- Of these, over 200 million men and nearly 300 million women were obese.
- 65% of the world's population lives in countries where overweight and obesity kills more people than underweight.
- Nearly 43 million children under the age of five were overweight in 2010.
- Obesity is preventable.
- Overweight and obesity are the 5-th leading risks of death globally.
- At least 2.8 million adults die each year as a result of being overweight or obese.
--- 44% of the diabetes burden;
--- 23% of the ischemia heart disease burden;
--- 7% - 41% of certain cancer burdens
are attributable to overweight and obesity.
- Once considered a high-income country problem, overweight and obesity are now on the rise in low- and middle-income countries, particularly in urban settings.
Credits: Reuters, Metro.co.uk and WHO
Bonus - Tristram Stuart, "The global food waste scandal"
American Senior Hunger Facts: http://www.feedingamerica.org/hunger-in-america/impact-of-hunger/senior-hunger/senior-hunger-fact-sheet.html