Thirty-eight million more people faced hunger globally in 2016 compared with the previous year, bringing the overall number to 815 million or 11 percent of the world population, a UN report has revealed.
Violent conflicts and climate-related shocks are the main drivers of food insecurity and malnutrition globally, with the highest number of people affected in Asia and Africa, with 520 million and 243 million people affected respectively, according to The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2017. The prevalence of undernourishment, however, remains highest in Africa.
Other causes include "sweeping changes" in dietary habits, as well as economic slowdowns, according to the World Health Organisation.
The report is the UN's first worldwide assessment of food security and nutrition to be released since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Ending hunger and malnutrition by 2030 is listed as a top international priority on the agenda.
Some of the key figures on childhood nutrition presented in the report are as follows:
- 155 million children under five are stunted in their physical growth
- 52 million children under five suffer from wasting (meaning their weight is very low relative to their height)
- 41 million children under five are overweight
Other striking figures include the number of adults worldwide who face obesity, approximately 641 million or 13 percent of all adults on the planet, and 613 million women of reproductive age (or 33 percent of the total) are affected by anaemia.
It also said people in countries affected by protracted crises are about 2.5 times more likely to be undernourished than elsewhere. Of the 815 million hungry people on earth, 489 million live in countries affected by conflict.
"This has set off alarm bells we cannot afford to ignore: we will not end hunger and all forms of malnutrition by 2030 unless we address all the factors that undermine food security and nutrition. Securing peaceful and inclusive societies is a necessary condition to that end," various international organisations said in their joint foreword to the report.
Read the full report by the Food And Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations here.