The number of people suffering from hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean is rising, while obesity has also grown into a new health menace, according to a joint study by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).
Hunger is a social hazard in about six countries, including Haiti, and is affecting as many as 2.4 million people across the region, the report shows. Efforts to eradicate hunger also appear to have stopped after many years of gradual progress.
In 2016, approximately 42.5 million people did not have enough food for their daily caloric needs, says the report. This is an increase of 2.4 million people, 6% more than the year before.
If this trend does not change “it will be very difficult for the region to reach ‘Sustainable Development Goal 2’ on eradicating hunger and malnutrition by 2030,” says Julio Berdegué, FAO Regional Representative.
In South America, the number of people suffering from hunger increased from to 5.6% in 2016 5% in 2015. Although hunger has not increased in the Caribbean, it is a serious issue.
“We cannot tolerate the current levels of hunger and obesity, as they will paralyze the entire Latin American and Caribbean generation,” warns FAO Regional Representative, Julio Berdegué.
In Brazil, Cuba, and Uruguay, the prevalence of undernourishment is less than 2.5%, while in Argentina, Barbados, Chile, Mexico, and Trinidad and Tobago it is below 5%.
The organizations have called on countries to transform their food systems, paying special attention to the condition of the most vulnerable people, homes, and territories.
In South America, the report added, 7.4% (2.5 million) of children under 5 years of age suffer from being overweight and obese, equivalent to 6% of the children in Central America and 6.9% of the children in the Caribbean.