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Inequality exacerbates hunger, malnutrition and obesity in Latin America and the Caribbean

Obesity has become the greatest nutritional threat in Latin America and the Caribbean. Nearly one in four adults is obese.

©FAO/Jules Tusseau

Hunger, malnutrition, lack of micronutrients, overweight and obesity have greater impact on people with lower income, women, indigenous people, Afro-descendants and rural families in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to a new UN report.

The Panorama of Food and Nutrition Security 2018, focuses on the close linkages between economic and social inequality and the higher levels of hunger, obesity and malnutrition of the most vulnerable populations of the region.

According to the report, in Latin America, 8,4 percent of women live in severe food insecurity, compared to 6,9 percent  of men, while indigenous populations generally suffer greater food insecurity than non-indigenous people. In ten countries, children from the poorest 20 percent  of households suffer three times more stunting than the richest 20 percent.

The Panorama indicates that one of the main causes of the rise of malnutrition in vulnerable population groups are the changes that the region’s food systems - the cycle of food from production to consumption - have undergone.

These changes have affected the entire population, but the most excluded members of society have suffered the worst effects; while many have increased their consumption of healthy foods such as milk and meat, often they must opt for cheap products with high fat, sugar and salt content.

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