World Food Day: Hunger not an “incurable disease” – Pope Francis

Wars and climate change are two major causes of hunger, so the plight that now affects 815 million people should not be treated as “an incurable disease”, Pope Francis said on World Food Day.

Hunger levels have begun to rise for the first time in a decade, the United Nations says. Here are some key facts: Last year the proportion of the world’s population affected by hunger rose for the first time in more than a decade, to 11 percent – up from 10.6 percent in 2015.

In 2005, the proportion was 14.2 percent. The number of hungry in 2016 was 815 million, up from 777 million in 2015. Numbers of hungry began to rise in 2014. The largest number live in Asia (520 million), followed by Africa (243 million), and Latin America and the Caribbean (42 million). Africa has the highest rates of hunger (20 percent), followed by Asia (11.7 percent) and Latin America and the Caribbean (6.6 percent).

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About a third of food produced every year is spoiled after harvest and during transport, or thrown away by shops and consumers. Obesity worldwide has doubled between 1980 and 2014, and most people live in countries where being overweight and obese kills more people than being underweight.  Undernutrition and obesity can exist within the same country, the same community and the same household.

Famine struck parts of South Sudan earlier this year, and there is a high risk that it could return there – and develop in other countries affected by conflict: northeast Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen.  489 million hungry people, and 122 million children, live in countries affected by conflict. * Climate change, conflict and the global economic slowdown are the main causes of the recent increase in hunger.

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Sources: The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2017 report, U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Food Programme (WFP) and World Health Organization (WHO).

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