IMPROVED GLOBAL NUTRITION
Despite the fact that more than enough food is produced to feed the global population, approximately 815 million people worldwide are suffering from malnutrition. World hunger is on the rise as the population of “developing” or “industrializing” countries are growing exponentially. While previously termed “third-world countries” come to mind, an increasing amount of people in the U.S. are also suffering thanks to the rise of food deserts. Food deserts are usually urban areas where it is difficult to buy affordable and/or good-quality fresh food and are concentrated in low-income areas or areas populated by minorities.
What is it?
Before we can dive into what it means to support improved global nutrition, we need to define some important terms. Hunger can be defined as either a short-term physical discomfort as a result of chronic food shortage or as a life-threatening lack of food in severe cases. World hunger is a term that is used to refer to hunger that is aggregated on a global level. Food insecurity is used to describe a limited or unreliable access to foods that are safe and nutritionally adequate. Malnutrition is a condition that results from the insufficient intake of biologically necessary nutrients, and this term includes both overnutrition and undernutrition. As would be expected, the focus for global hunger is undernutrition. Protein-energy malnutrition (PEM) is a type of malnutrition where there is a lack of calories and protein. PEM is the more lethal form of hunger and is generally the type of malnutrition that is referred to when world hunger is talked about and leads to growth failure. The second type of malnutrition is micronutrient deficiency. Many micronutrients are important for health but iron, vitamin a, and iodine tend to be the most important micronutrient deficiencies for people in these developing countries.
When a company supports improved global nutrition, this entity may provide aid in a variety of ways. They may donate a portion of their profits to organizations that are focused on world hunger, volunteer their time to help out one of these organizations, or donate some of their products to help these organizations reach their goals.
Why does it matter?
Poverty and hunger have a very cyclical relationship with each other. Conflict, political instability, food and agricultural policy, and climate change are also significant causes of hunger. Given these causes, it is no wonder world hunger is centralized to developing countries. The rise of food deserts in affluent countries have changed the way we see world hunger and malnutrition. Many of us may have heard our parents yelling, “There are starving kids in Africa you know. I’m sure they would love to finish up that plate for you” as a way to get us to eat all of our dinner. That threat would still work, but they could also add in, “Or you could give the homeless man up the street the rest of your peas.” Food deserts tend to be located in low-income and minority populated communities. So it may look like everyone has access to food, but no one wants to live off of gas station food forever, nor would they live a quality life with that diet as they would be missing out on vital micronutrients.
Improved global nutrition encompasses lowering the amount of people suffering from chronic hunger and those who only have access to the “food” offered at gas stations. Improved nutrition would mean fewer children would be stunted mentally and physically. It would mean that we are taking one more step towards global equality. Food is a human necessity and yet it is still treated as a privilege in this day and age.
It is important for companies to support improved global nutrition in some way because it would prove that these once profit-centered entities are looking to benefit the environment, their global neighbors, as well as, their wallets. It is important for consumers to support these triple-bottom-line concerned companies because it will incentivize other companies to follow suit.
Your “Simple Switch” to products that support improved global nutrition is important because it benefits individuals who suffer from malnutrition no matter the level of affluence their country has.