The population affected by food insecurity has continued to increase in Latin America during the last five years. In 2019, almost a third of the population, or 191 million people, were affected by moderate or severe food insecurity and a new United Nations report shows the territorial inequality of malnutrition in the region. The Regional Overview of Food and Nutrition Security in Latin America and the Caribbean 2020 analyses child overweight and stunting in the region, and identifies which territories are highly lagging, that is, those that exhibit levels significantly higher than the national averages.
The report also emphasises that the quality of diets is also related to overweight, and this new edition of the Regional Overview confirms that child overweight in the region continues to increase, standing at 7.5% in 2019, above the world average of 5.6%. In fact, overweight and obesity continue to increase among all age groups. In every country of the region, overweight in women is higher than in men, and in 19 of them, the difference reaches at least 10 percentage points. The economic and social cost of the double burden of malnutrition, and especially overweight and obesity, is increasing in the region, with 75% of deaths caused by non-communicable diseases associated with unhealthy diets.
Overweight among girls and boys under 5 years of age in the region exceeds the world average of 5.6% and has shown a continuous increase since 1990, with a prevalence that increased from 6.2% in 1990 to 7.5% in 2019. This means an increase of 400,000 overweight children, which in total reached 3.9 million in 2019. If this trend continues, the region will not meet the goal of the World Health Assembly, which states that overweight in children under 5 years old should not increase between 2012 and 2025.
The WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger in Brazil joined efforts with the country’s Ministry of Health and the Brazilian Cooperation Agency (ABC) to overcome these challenges in the South-South Cooperation Project to tackle the Multiple Burden of Malnutrition in School-aged Children. This initiative focuses mainly in the fight against overweight and childhood obesity and is intended to support processes to strengthen national public institutions and key nutrition and health sectors for the management of public policies on food and nutrition in Brazil, Colombia and Peru. Find out more here >>>