Red Cross: Obese outnumber hungry

2011-09-22 15:05

New Delhi - Obese people now outnumber the hungry globally, but hardship for the undernourished is increasing amid a growing food crisis, the International Federation of the Red Cross warned on Thursday.

The Geneva-based humanitarian group focused on nutrition in its annual World Disasters Report, released in New Delhi, seeking to highlight the disparity between rich and poor, as well problems caused by a recent spike in prices.

In statistics used to underline the unequal access to food, the IFRC stressed there were 1.5 billion people suffering obesity worldwide last year, while 925 million were undernourished.

"If the free interplay of market forces has produced an outcome where 15% of humanity are hungry while 20% are overweight, something has gone wrong somewhere," secretary general Bekele Geleta said in a statement.

Asia-Pacific director Jagan Chapagain called it a "double-edged scandal" at a press conference in the Indian capital, adding that "excess nutrition now kills more than hunger".

Food prices

The problem of hunger existed not because there was a lack of food globally, he stressed, but because of poor distribution, wastage and rising prices that made food unaffordable.

Food prices have spiked globally in 2011, raising fears of a re-run of the crisis seen in 2008 which led to riots and political instability in many countries.

The rise in food prices, which the IFRC blamed on speculative commodity trading and climate change, among other factors, is seen as having contributed to the unrest witnessed in north Africa and the Middle East this year.

"A new round of food inflation... is plunging many of the world's poorest people into deeper poverty and situations of severe hunger and malnourishment," the organisation said.

The World Disasters Report is an annual publication by the group seeking to highlight an area of global concern. Last year's study focused on urbanisation, while 2009's was on HIV and health.

  • Tony - 2011-09-22 15:39

    Fat chance that is correct!

      Currie_Mafia - 2011-09-22 16:19

      Slim, baie slim !

  • Buffalo - 2011-09-22 15:46

    So . . . feed the 20% of humanity that is obese, to the 15% of humanity that is under-nourished. We shall still have 575 million of the Fat-F**ks left after the Skinnys are nourished. Problems solved all-round.

      Currie_Mafia - 2011-09-22 16:20

      lol...thats the US gone !

  • BraBob - 2011-09-22 16:00

    "If the free interplay of market forces has produced an outcome where 15% of humanity are hungry while 20% are overweight, something has gone wrong somewhere," If the 15% start working, they can join the 20%

      pete - 2011-09-22 21:09

      because i'm sure they would rather starve than work.....

  • brok3news - 2011-09-22 16:03

    Fat people need food quotas.

      Agent Bastad - 2011-09-22 16:18

      How so? Does their eating a delicious hamburger mean that Sipho from Jalalabad can't have one? Does all the food in the world lie in one big pile and the fat people take more than their share?

  • Agent Bastad - 2011-09-22 16:16

    The problem is also a result of the pressure to produce "free range" and "organic" food, whatever that means. And also the ban on GM crops, which are more hardy and have a higher yield. I don't know about you, but I'd rather eat mutant mielies than nothing at all...

      thuglife - 2011-09-23 06:54

      The problem is hardly affected bans on Genetically Modified foods; the problem is primarily due to rising fuel prices, since farmers and producers of agriculture need fuel to supply food. Since bio-fuels can be used as a substitute for fuel, the demand for "bio-fuels" has never been higher... This heightened demand for bio-fuel has a serious affect on food prices worldwide. These bio-fuels actually use more fuel to produce than they actually supply, which makes them not a viable option for an alternate energy source.

      Gungets Tuft - 2011-09-23 09:12

      If you think the issue with GM is that simple you have not read enough. Not even going to start the discussion here because News24 comments columns seldom attract people interested in researching. Not a swipe at you, but it invariably turns into pig-wrestling and is not worth it

      Agent Bastad - 2011-09-23 09:46

      There's no single problem, hence my use of the word "also". There is a lot wrong with the world adn it is goin gto take a long time to fix it. And by "fix it" I don't mean ignoring the obvious or living in a crystal tower. People are starving, there are people who WANT to feed them, but insane laws are making it impossible for the two groups to meet (or meat ;) ). For instance, the Congo has a huge food crisis. There are South African farmers who want to go there and produce food, but the government of the Congo is concerned about evil whites stealing land. It's just one example of the absurdity in the world, but it's far from the only example.

      Gungets Tuft - 2011-09-23 21:47

      Agent. Read 2 books. First "Dark Star Safari" by Paul Theroux - brilliant insight into the problems with food and aid in Africa. Next read "The Shock Doctrine" by Naomi Klein, which gives insights into the economics of a group of people who come from Chicago University, as well as how big business the world over drives politics, seldom for the good of the people. Agree on biofuels etc. We need to be hugely agressive on attacking demand for energy, not looking for other ways to supply more.

  • Holly - 2011-09-24 13:46

    The Scaling Up Nutrition, or SUN, movement calls for countries to set their own attainable health targets, such as stunting reductions and lowered anemia rates among pregnant women, during the first 1,000 days from conception to a child’s second birthday.

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