FAO Director-General Calls for Collaboration to Combat Malnutrition and Obesity

Photo: Claudia Gardner

Story Highlights

  • Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), José Graziano da Silva, has called for a multisectoral approach in combating malnutrition and obesity, which are on the rise in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC).
  • “The prevalence of malnourished people increased in 2016. This includes here in Latin America and the Caribbean, where the numbers went up from 20 million to 42.2 million. So now it is time to take stock of the promise made, then find the reasons for this setback and draw conclusions on how to move forward to make sure that the numbers go down,” he said.
  • “The rate of overweight children under five years of age is about seven per cent, exceeding the world average. Obesity has increased in all groups. In 24 countries of the region, about 20 per cent of the population is obese,” he pointed out.

Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), José Graziano da Silva, has called for a multisectoral approach in combating malnutrition and obesity, which are on the rise in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC).

Speaking on day two of the FAO’s 35th Regional Conference for the LAC at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St. James on Tuesday (March 6), Mr. da Silva said there is a “disturbing change”, which has resulted in the prevalence of malnourished people increasing in countries of the Caribbean, South and Central American subregions.

“The prevalence of malnourished people increased in 2016. This includes here in Latin America and the Caribbean, where the numbers went up from 20 million to 42.2 million. So now it is time to take stock of the promise made, then find the reasons for this setback and draw conclusions on how to move forward to make sure that the numbers go down,” he said.

Mr. da Silva noted that obesity is of grave concern to the FAO, as there has been a marked increase in the onset of childhood obesity in LAC member states.

“The rate of overweight children under five years of age is about seven per cent, exceeding the world average. Obesity has increased in all groups. In 24 countries of the region, about 20 per cent of the population is obese,” he pointed out.

Mr. da Silva said the FAO will be undertaking a comprehensive and extensive debate with countries, civil society and the private sector and exchanging ideas on the best way to tackle all forms of malnutrition during the regional conference.

“Let me highlight this loud and clear – eradicating hunger must not be our only concern. Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Number Two calls for the eradication of all forms of malnutrition,” he noted.

The FAO’s Regional Conference for the LAC is an official biennial forum where Ministers of Agriculture and high-level officials of member nations meet to discuss challenges and priority matters related to food and agriculture as a means of ensuring the promotion of regional coherence on global policies and political issues.

The key agenda items at the four-day conference are eradicating hunger, overweight and obesity; ending rural poverty; promoting climate resilient sustainable agriculture.

Regional Conferences are geared at ensuring the effectiveness of the work of the FAO as well as the definition of its priority areas of work for the next two years.

In addition to Ministers of Agriculture, representatives of regional, intra-regional, international organisations, civil society and the private sector are also hosted as Observers to the sessions.

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