In comparison to the past decade, we see more and more obese people around us. Almost every other person is trying to lose weight or at least complaining of being overweight. What can be the reason behind this major increase in the body fat of the general population around the globe?
A recent report by the United Nations Organization puts the blame on our sedentary lifestyles and dietary habits.
United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), in a report issued on the World Food Day, has mentioned that consuming a diet loaded with starch, sugar, fats and salt; combined with a sedentary lifestyle, is the main reason behind the increasing global obesity rates, despite the fact that there are so many countries where people still suffer from hunger and malnutrition.
According to the UN report, people living in cities or urban towns in recent decades have slowly moved away away from having seasonal diets and local food, mainly plant-based and fibre-rich food. Globalisation, urbanisation and growth in income were cited as major reasons behind the diet shift as people find less time to cook at home, and rely mostly on fast-food outlets, street food vendors and takeaway meals due to their busy schedules.
Now the situation is such that more than 800 million people are considered to be suffering from obesity, and over 40 million children under five are overweight!
Such unhealthy eating habits have further led to an increase in obesity-related health issues such as diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancers.
As a consequence the health cost of such a sedentary lifestyle are estimated at around USD two trillion per year, the report said.
At the same time, some 821 million people are still suffering from hunger across the world, with numbers increasing over the past three years, and around one in three children are malnourished and not developing properly: in some parts of Africa, hunger has risen by almost 20 per cent, it added.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, in a video statement released on Wednesday, emphasised on the need to make changes in the food systems in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and requested everyone to encourage and promote healthy diets that can restore the UN’s goal of zero hunger by 2030.
“By promoting healthy living to their citizens, governments can make savings, by cutting food-related health problems; and the private sector can make a difference by reducing the amount of harmful ingredients in their products,” he added. Guterres also noted that the way food is currently consumed and produced has a significant effect on climate change.
The UN chief announced that he hopes to convene a major Food Systems Summit in 2021, as part of the Decade of Action to deliver the SDGs.
With inputs from ANI