The total obese and overweight population has exceeded the population in hunger, highlighting the need for intensified efforts from various countries to improve nutrition and promote healthy diets, the China representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations said on Wednesday.
"It is high time for us to rethink hunger, rethink our diets and rethink our food systems which are the foundation for all activities ," Martin Vincent said at an event marking World Food Day in Hefei, Anhui province. "As a result of globalization, urbanization and income growth, unhealthy diets have overtaken smoking as the world's number-one risk factor for disability and death worldwide.
While globally 820 million suffer from hunger, more than 830 people, including adults and minors, are obese or overweight. Undernourishment, excessive weight and obesity have formed a triple burden for nutrition across the world, including in China," Vincent said.
"We call on governments to address malnutrition at its roots, at food production and to increase the availability and affordability of diverse and nutritious foods for healthy diets. We call on the private sector to positively influence the food environment by introducing more nutritious foods and adhering to nutrition laws and regulations. We call on people to be health-conscious and informed to adjust their food choices and eating patterns," he said.
In China, remarkable progress has been made over the past decades in fighting food insecurity, with hundreds of millions of people being lifted out of poverty, Vincent said.
However, with very few people remaining hungry in China, the number of overweight and obese people due to unhealthy diet and lifestyle has increased rapidly in recent years like many other countries, which has caused increasing health burdens, he said.
All sectors of society, including the government, enterprises and consumers, need to make changes to fight malnutrition, said Vincent, adding FAO will work with China's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs to promote nutrition in agriculture.
Zhang Wufeng, head of the National Food and Strategic Reserves Administration, said at Wednesday's event that China has significantly improved food security over the past seven decades, and successfully fed nearly 20 percent of the world's total population with just 9 percent of the world's farmland and 6 percent of the world's total freshwater resources.
"It is a remarkable achievement, and a major contribution to the world," he said.
Zhang Lubiao, director of the Agricultural Trade Promotion Center under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, said China has been intensifying international cooperation in food and agriculture with other countries, and will continue to work with the international community to contribute to improved global food security.
Source:(China Daily 10/16/2019)