On 16 October, participants from over 150 countries around the world will take part in various challenges, projects and fundraisers to mark the 40th anniversary of World Food Day.
Founded by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the event was designed to raise awareness about the extremely high rate of malnutrition and starvation globally. Sadly, 40 years on, the starvation crisis prevails. However it is not the nutrition problem that is the only issue we face. Obesity now affects over double the number of people who are classified as starving.
Whilst it is all well and good providing food to areas of scarcity, a bigger problem the food industry faces today is ensuring that food is healthy, nutritious and sustainable. Due to the climate crisis it is no longer sustainable to import and export vast amounts of food and therefore changes must be made to maximise the usage of local produce.
Furthermore, in the ever-growing consumer societies of the western world, the ease of access to fast food alternatives is contributing to global obesity. The main problem is the low cost and convenience of fast food both in supermarkets and directly from the chains themselves. In 2017 Britain consumed over 100 million fast food or takeaway meals a week and obesity now contributes to more cases of four major cancers than smoking in the UK. To help combat this obsession with fast food, the United Nations FAO proposes legal changes be made at Governmental levels.
At the other end of the scale, World Food Day aims to raise awareness about the effects of the global migration crisis on food distribution and security and explain how this is leading to malnutrition and starvation. With the global population and wealth being so unevenly distributed, the amount of food waste caused by the excessive importing of goods in affluent countries has reached an astronomical 1.3 billion tonnes a year, that’s one third of all food produced and is contributing significantly to global warming.
World Food Day hopes not only to raise awareness on these issues but also to educate people on how to make positive changes. Proposed solutions include implementing educational programmes on a national level and making food education compulsory in all primary schools to instil healthy habits in children from a young age to prevent the nutrition crisis continuing to future generations. Additionally there are proposals to pressure governments into enforcing laws on advertising and raising taxes on junk food, especially those products targeted at children and young adults.
In a world where 821 million people go to bed hungry every night and over 2 billion are classified as overweight or obese, there is clearly a serious crisis of nutrition which World Food Day hopes to shed light on. This day, and the events that take place as part of the campaign, work tirelessly to help people tackle one of the most severe humanitarian problems of our age.
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