Europe and Central Asia: Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition 2020 – Affordable Healthy Diets to Promote Health and Address all Forms of Malnutrition – World

New FAO-led meals safety and diet report for Europe and Central Asia elaborates on the prices of a nutritious diet

12 May 2021, Budapest, Hungary – Although extreme starvation has not been a serious situation in Europe and Central Asia up to now 20 years, the area is partially dealing with a rise of average meals insecurity – understood as irregular entry to nutritious and enough meals -, whereas additionally coping with the widespread fast development of weight problems, difficult its potential to realize meals safety and improved diet, as outlined within the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2.

Lowering the prices of wholesome diets will be essential to attaining higher diet and sustainability.

According to the Europe and Central Asia Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has posed severe threats to meals safety and diet, particularly for low-income and susceptible populations within the area.

The annual report, produced collectively by FAO, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Food Programme (WFP), World Health Organization (WHO), and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), supplies a complete evaluation of the subject, together with all types of malnutrition, present dietary patterns, and the prices of diets for people, society, and the planet.

Of specific concern in Europe and Central Asia general is the quickly worsening state of affairs in some international locations of Central Asia, the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Caucasus, which is preserving the area as a complete from attaining the 2030 targets of the SDGs on the prevalence of extreme and average meals insecurity.

“The previous 12 months have proven that our well being and the functioning of our agrifood techniques are elementary – and that extra effort is required,” stated Vladimir Rakhmanin, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative. “We all – together with determination makers, the event group, civil society, academia, the personal sector and people – must do our half to realize the Zero Hunger goal, meals safety and improved diet, depart nobody behind and promote sustainable agriculture.”

“Reducing starvation and malnutrition requires a life-cycle method, with particular consideration paid to youngsters, adolescent women, moms and different susceptible teams,” stated John Aylieff, WFP Regional Director, Asia and the Pacific. “Zero Hunger isn’t just about having a stomach full. It requires us to work throughout sectors – from agriculture and social safety to training and well being – to make sure a wholesome, balanced weight loss program that is additionally reasonably priced and accessible for all.”

“Depending on their manufacturing and site, farmers within the area have been significantly hit by the disruptions attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in international locations with economies in transition,” confused Olga Algayerova, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and UNECE. “I name on governments to deploy satisfactory monetary help to farmers. I additionally invite them to make full use of the UN commerce facilitation and border-crossing procedures to maintain borders open to facilitate the circulate of products, particularly important merchandise equivalent to contemporary meals.”

Countries are making headway within the eradication of kid stunting and losing and low beginning weight, however an reverse tendency is recorded for anaemia and unique breastfeeding in the course of the first six months of life. In all international locations of the area, gaps exist within the coverage framework for the prevention of weight problems and iron deficiency anaemia.

“UNICEF acknowledges the necessary breakthroughs international locations have achieved regarding baby stunting, losing and low beginning weight. However, and not using a redoubling of effort, the area won’t meet 2025 and 2030 commitments on childhood weight problems, anaemia and unique breastfeeding,” stated Afshan Khan, UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia and Special Coordinator for the Refugee and Migrant Response in Europe. “Affordable, wholesome diets are the idea of meals safety and diet outcomes, and the impression of the COVID-19 pandemic has elevated the vulnerability of kids’s diet. We have proof to share with policymakers and meals suppliers to take motion to enhance diets and mobilize well being, training and social techniques to scale up diet outcomes for kids.”

The prevalence of chubby and weight problems is a serious drawback, even amongst youngsters, with alarmingly excessive charges in most international locations of the area. According to the World Health Organization, the prevalence of chubby amongst youngsters aged 6-9 is the very best in Mediterranean international locations.

“People dwelling with weight problems have an elevated danger for extreme COVID-19 outcomes,” stated Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe. “COVID-19 has additionally highlighted how fragile meals techniques will be – and the way necessary it’s to make sure that all individuals, regardless of the place and the way they reside, have entry to protected, wholesome and sustainable meals. For the WHO European area, that is important, given the alarming state of affairs with weight problems – a power complicated illness in itself and a serious danger issue for non-communicable illnesses within the area.”

Additionally, the area is strongly affected by challenges imposed by the overconsumption of meals excessive in salt, fats and sugar and the underconsumption of fruit and veggies. This requires structural adjustments in meals manufacturing and consumption inside present meals techniques. WHO information present that unhealthy diets account for an estimated 86 % of deaths and 77 % of the illness burden within the area.

When growing nationwide meals safety and diet methods, FAO recommends that international locations contemplate the environmental and local weather impacts of the reference weight loss program – which is at present not included – and enhance training on that.

“The impacts of local weather and environmental adjustments more and more problem present governance efforts,” stated Milan Dacić, WMO Chief for Europe. “Policies are wanted that help sustainable land administration, scale back air air pollution, guarantee the provision of meals for susceptible populations, scale back crop loss and restrict greenhouse gasoline emissions related to agriculture. World Meteorological Organization actions on long-term monitoring; sharing of knowledge, data and data; and improved context-specific forecasts and evaluation are important help to alleviation of the impacts of local weather and environmental adjustments.”

Fang additionally pointed on the disadvantageous composition of meals out there within the markets of Europe and Central Asia. As revealed within the regional overview, the provision of animal-based meals is above the world common, whereas the consumption of greens, pulses and fish is beneath the world common. Increased consideration to a nutrition-sensitive agriculture facilitating wholesome diets can be required. The European Green Deal and From Farm to Fork initiatives are coverage frameworks that would facilitate change.

“The primary conclusion is that regardless of good progress in diversifying and transferring meals availability in the proper course, there’s a must reorient meals manufacturing and commerce techniques to allow wholesome diets,” stated Cheng Fang, an FAO economist and the primary creator of the report. “This might require extra efforts in shopper training and incentives to extend the consumption of fruits and fish, amongst different meals, to realize sustainable and wholesome diet methods in these international locations.”

The prices of wholesome diets

Healthy diets are typically costly, as they value 5 occasions extra, on common, than diets that cowl solely the fundamental power wants via a starchy staple, in response to the FAO report and based mostly on the evaluation of meals value/affordability information from 14 chosen international locations in Europe and Central Asia.

Cost drivers embody commerce, public expenditures and funding insurance policies all through agrifood provide chains. To counter their impacts, FAO and the World Food Programme advocate for nutrition-sensitive investments, focused interventions and social safety insurance policies and programmes to extend the affordability of wholesome diets in a sustainable method. To this finish, the expertise of Armenia with nutrition-sensitive social safety measures is offered within the report.

“The advantages of a nutritious weight loss program have an effect on not solely people, but additionally the society as a complete,” stated Fang, “and the prices of a nutritious weight loss program are additionally borne by your complete society.”

Overall, the whole prices related to wholesome diets are a lot decrease than the prices of present consumption patterns. Were the inhabitants to shift to wholesome diets, it’s projected that direct and oblique well being prices can be lowered as much as 97 % and the social value of greenhouse gasoline emissions can be lowered by 41-74 %, in response to information from tasks within the examined international locations. These advantages might probably enhance over time with innovation and the adoption of recent applied sciences involving climate-smart agriculture.

“The momentum created by the pandemic provides us an opportunity to rethink our agrifood techniques, amongst different points, and to set off a change for higher meals and diet at much less value to the surroundings. The UN Food Systems Summit convened this fall by the UN Secretary-General, provides us all a superb alternative to deal with this necessary situation,” stated Rakhmanin.

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