Obesity rates soar due to dramatic global diet shift, says UN food agency

Public Domain Hamburger with Fries. WHO has released the REPLACE guidelines, to eliminate industrially-produced trans-fatty acids from food suplly.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


Eating food high in starch, sugar, fats and salt; combined with a sedentary lifestyle, is a recipe for soaring global obesity rates, even in countries where many still suffer from hunger. On World Food Day, which falls on Wednesday, the UN’s food agency, FAO, is calling for action to make healthy, sustainable diets affordable and accessible for all.

The shift away from seasonal, mainly plant-based and fibre-rich food has occurred in recent decades, as a result of globalization, urbanization and growth in income, says FAO, as busy consumers in urban areas find less time to cook at home, and rely increasingly on fast-food outlets, street food vendors and take-away meals.

This has led to a situation whereby almost 800 million people are considered obese, and over 40 million children under-five are overweight. The health costs of unhealthy eating habits – blamed as the leading cause of diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers – are estimated at around $2 trillion per year.

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.

Everyone can play their part in promoting healthy diets and achieving the UN’s goal of zero hunger by 2030, FAO urges. Farmers, and others who work in agriculture, can spread their knowledge, and traditional, sustainable practices. 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.

In a video statement released on Wednesday, UN chief António Guterres underlined the crucial need to transform food systems in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

As well as impacting health, the way that food is currently consumed and produced is having a significant effect on climate change. Mr. Guterres announced that he hopes to convene a major Food Systems Summit in 2021, as part of the Decade of Action to deliver the SDGs.                    

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

As India’s lockdown ends, a mental health crisis is just beginning

New state aid rules: Commission increases national support to farmers up to €25,000

Soccer is back with strict COVID-19 rules. Here’s what you need to know

Young health workforce – a core of effective primary healthcare?

Countries should focus on labour market policies to help refugees and improve coordinated actions to tackle illegal immigration

After the European Parliament elections – what happens next?

China hopes EU Commissioner De Gucht drops super anti-dumping tariff on solar panels

‘Foreign children’ in overwhelmed Syrian camp need urgent international help, says top UN official

What we can learn from Asia’s courts of the future

Peace dividend palpable in South Sudan, but ‘grassroots’ are moving faster than elites, says Shearer

A new kind of company is revolutionising Africa’s gig economy

After COVID-19, we must rethink how we find and produce new drugs

Investors must travel a winding road to net-zero. Here’s a map

As urbanisation grows, cities unveil sustainable development solutions on World Day

EU finally agrees on target for 40% greenhouse emission cuts ahead of Paris climate talks

EU and China discuss trade and economic relations

What are plastics and why do they matter? An explainer

Economic sentiment and business climate stagnate in miserable euro area

Anti-vaccine sentiment one of 10 biggest health threats, says WHO

Abandoned mines could become the farms of the future

Coronavirus: Commission continues expanding future vaccines portfolio with new talks

How the media can be a meaningful stakeholder in the quest to meet the SDGs

World Retail Congress Dubai 2016: Retail’s night of nights

How do you get people to trust self-driving vehicles? This company is giving them ‘virtual eyes’

At Ministerial session, UN regional office in Beirut to focus on technology for sustainable development

Ten new migratory species protected under global wildlife agreement

Commission steps up EU action to protect and restore the world’s forests

Sweden has a plan to end all traffic accident deaths

Visa liberalisation: Commission reports on fulfilment of visa-free requirements by Western Balkans and Eastern Partnership countries

The movement of anti-vaccers: taking humanity back 200 years

Yemen conflict: ‘Fragile’ hopes rise, as violence decreases and life-saving humanitarian funding surges

Women in evidence: recognition for coping with COVID-19

Discovering Europe: Free EU rail pass for 18 year olds

Do we need a Paris Agreement for tech? Here’s what world leaders and tech chiefs say

Reintegrating former rebels into civilian life a ‘serious concern’ in Colombia: UN Mission chief

Finland has just published everyone’s taxes on ‘National Jealousy Day’

The public health system in Brazil as a promoter of sexual and reproductive health and rights: how does it help in the fight against HIV/AIDS?

Economic recovery won’t tackle youth unemployment problem

10 reasons to be optimistic for the future, from young change-makers

Myanmar companies bankroll ‘brutal operations’ of military, independent UN experts claim in new report

We asked young people about work and skills. Here’s what they told us

Violence in North and West Africa increasingly targeting civilian and border areas – OECD/SWAC

How businesses can navigate a global economic slowdown

Air Pollution Control: Does Your Action Matter?

Compensation for damages by the State for infringement of EU law: the European Commission refers Spain to the Court of Justice for its rules on the compensation for damages incurred by private parties

In New Zealand it takes less than a day to start a business

This Belgian start-up allows anyone to become an urban farmer

World Digital Media Awards winners announced at WNMC.19 in Glasgow, in association with The European Sting

A chemistry professor explains: why soap is so good at killing COVID-19

What are Asia Pacific countries getting right in the fight against cancer?

Hurdles of the COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign

Is the English language too powerful?

Healthcare for refugees: a necessary symbiosis of medicine and politics

Evacuation of wounded Yemenis from rebel-held capital may bolster fresh peace talks

Sustainable fisheries: Commission takes stock of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy and launches consultation on the fishing opportunities for 2021

Parliamentary bid to democratize Myanmar constitution a ‘positive development’ says UN rights expert

COVID-19: research package welcomed, EU needs to be better equipped in future

An entrepreneurial point-of view on tackling the migration crisis and the risks of abolishing Schengen

Understanding the challenge surrounding the Covid-19 vaccine campaign

Transparency and tech together can safeguard taxpayers’ money

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s