New FAO-led food security and nutrition report for Europe and Central Asia elaborates on costs of a healthy diet

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

Lowering the prices of wholesome diets may be essential to reaching higher vitamin 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 vitamin, particularly for low-income and weak 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), offers 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 total is the quickly worsening state of affairs in some international locations of Central Asia, the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Caucasus, which is retaining the area as an entire from reaching 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 methods are elementary – and that extra effort is required,” mentioned Vladimir Rakhmanin, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative. “We all – together with choice makers, the event neighborhood, civil society, academia, the personal sector and people – must do our half to realize the Zero Hunger goal, meals safety and improved vitamin, 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 weak teams,” mentioned John Aylieff, WFP Regional Director, Asia and the Pacific. “Zero Hunger is not only about having a stomach full. It requires us to work throughout sectors – from agriculture and social safety to schooling and well being – to make sure a wholesome, balanced eating regimen that’s additionally inexpensive and accessible for all.”

“Depending on their manufacturing and placement, 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,” pressured Olga Algayerova, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and UNECE. “I name on governments to deploy sufficient monetary assist 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 resembling contemporary meals.”

Countries are making headway within the eradication of kid stunting and losing and low delivery 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 vital breakthroughs international locations have achieved regarding baby stunting, losing and low delivery weight. However, with no redoubling of effort, the area is not going to meet 2025 and 2030 commitments on childhood weight problems, anaemia and unique breastfeeding,” mentioned 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 vitamin outcomes, and the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic has elevated the vulnerability of kids’s vitamin. We have proof to share with policymakers and meals suppliers to take motion to enhance diets and mobilize well being, schooling and social methods to scale up vitamin outcomes for youngsters.”

The prevalence of chubby and weight problems is a significant 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 best in Mediterranean international locations.

“People residing with weight problems have an elevated danger for extreme COVID-19 outcomes,” mentioned Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe. “COVID-19 has additionally highlighted how fragile meals methods may be – and the way vital it’s to make sure that all folks, regardless of the place and the way they dwell, have entry to secure, wholesome and sustainable meals. For the WHO European area, that is very important, given the alarming state of affairs with weight problems – a persistent complicated illness in itself and a significant 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 methods. WHO knowledge present that unhealthy diets account for an estimated 86 p.c of deaths and 77 p.c of the illness burden within the area.

When creating nationwide meals safety and vitamin methods, FAO recommends that international locations take into account the environmental and local weather impacts of the reference eating regimen – which is at the moment not included – and improve schooling on that.

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

“The predominant conclusion is that regardless of good progress in diversifying and shifting meals availability in the proper route, there’s a have to reorient meals manufacturing and commerce methods to allow wholesome diets,” mentioned Cheng Fang, an FAO economist and the principle creator of the report. “This might require extra efforts in client schooling and incentives to extend the consumption of fruits and fish, amongst different meals, to realize sustainable and wholesome vitamin methods in these international locations.”

The prices of wholesome diets

Healthy diets are usually costly, as they value 5 occasions extra, on common, than diets that cowl solely the fundamental vitality wants by means of a starchy staple, in response to the FAO report and primarily based on the evaluation of meals value/affordability knowledge 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 introduced within the report.

“The advantages of a nutritious eating regimen have an effect on not solely people, but in addition the society as an entire,” mentioned Fang, “and the prices of a nutritious eating regimen are additionally borne by the complete society.”

Overall, the overall 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 p.c and the social value of greenhouse gasoline emissions can be lowered by 41-74 p.c, in response to knowledge from initiatives within the examined international locations. These advantages may doubtlessly improve over time with innovation and the adoption of recent applied sciences involving climate-smart agriculture.

“The momentum created by the pandemic presents us an opportunity to rethink our agrifood methods, amongst different points, and to set off a metamorphosis for higher meals and vitamin at much less value to the atmosphere. The UN Food Systems Summit convened this fall by the UN Secretary-General, offers us all a superb alternative to handle this vital difficulty,” mentioned Rakhmanin.

The Europe and Central Asia Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition 2020 – Affordable Healthy Diets to Promote Health and Address all Forms of Malnutrition is obtainable on-line in English and Russian.

/Public Release. This materials comes from the originating group and could also be of a point-in-time nature, edited for readability, type and size. View in full here.

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