July 6, 2020

Adult obesity in Latin America has tripled in four decades

Adult obesity in Latin America and the Caribbean has tripled since 1975 and currently affects one in four adults in the region, according to the 2019 Food and Nutrition Security Panorama report published on Tuesday by the UN.

"The increase in malnutrition along with obesity in the same communities is what is currently called the double weight of malnutrition," World Food Program (WFP) spokeswoman Herve Verhoosel said in Geneva.

This phenomenon frequently affects the poorest layers in societies, which is explained by the fact that ultraprocessed food and less healthy products are generally cheaper and more readily available than those that are healthy, he told Efe.

The solutions are not new, but governments seem to have not paid enough attention to this problem so far, which is highlighted in this evaluation, in which WFP, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have collaborated , the World Health Organization and UNICEF.

With an eye on these results, these organizations have come together to ask governments to take urgent measures to reverse the sustained increase in malnutrition.

Verhoosel explained that healthy foods can be promoted through social protection systems, school feeding programs, the regulation of advertising of "junk" food and tax incentives for healthy food.

The report highlights the importance of improving food labeling and including warnings about its nutritional content, as well as monitoring the quality of food sold on the street.

According to the nutritional assessment, 600,000 people die each year in Latin America and the Caribbean due to diseases related to a poor diet, mainly diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases.

Experts believe that inadequate diets are linked to more deaths than any other risk factor.

Children and adolescents are the most affected by all changes in food consumption in recent decades, which is reflected in the fact that in both age groups obesity has tripled in just 16 years.

The document reveals that Latin America and the Caribbean is worse off than the rest of the world in most malnutrition indicators and that calorie intake is above what is necessary.

Latin America, in particular, is the region where sales of ultraprocessed foods have grown the most, "exposing the population to excessive amounts of sugar, sodium and fat."

According to the latest available data, the consumption of ultraprocessed foods grew more than 25% between 2000 and 2013 and that of fast food by 40%.

. (tagsToTranslate) obesity (t) adults (t) Latin America (t) triplicate (t) decades

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