25 June 2018

Africa: Malnutrition the 'Challenge of Our Time', Say Award Winners

Photo: UNICEF/ Connelly
...

Rome — "People can't get enough nutritious food because it's too expensive"

Malnutrition is the "challenge of our time", with diet-related disease afflicting almost every country in the world, the winners of a $250,000 prize dubbed the Nobel for agriculture said on Monday.

David Nabarro and Lawrence Haddad, who were jointly awarded this year's World Food Prize, are jointly credited with cutting the number of stunted children in the world by 10 million by lobbying governments and donors to improve nutrition.

Stunting is caused by malnutrition in infancy and hinders cognitive as well as physical growth. Experts say the effects are largely irreversible and stunted children generally complete fewer years of schooling and earn less as adults.

Malnourished children also tended to become malnourished mothers, perpetuating the cycle, said Haddad, who heads the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition.

Levels of obesity, diabetes and hypertension were "skyrocketing in pretty much every country ... and the centre of all these things is diets," he said.

"People can't get enough nutritious food because it's too expensive or unavailable and the stuff that they shouldn't be eating a lot of, stuff that's high in sugar, salt and fat, is really cheap and available," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.

"This is the big challenge of our time. It's not about how to feed our world. It's about how to nourish our world."

Haddad was joint winner of the award with Nabarro, a British doctor and former U.N. Special Representative for Food Security and Nutrition.

Between them they have persuaded governments, donors and others to set up policies and programmes that decreased the number of stunted children globally to 155 million in 2017 from 165 million in 2012, the World Food Prize organisers said.

Nabarro said good nutrition in the first 1,000 days from conception to a child's second birthday was "absolutely key".

"There is work still to be done to get a widespread understanding of the importance of the right kind of diet," he said.

About 815 million of the world's 7.6 billion people go hungry daily while 2 billion are overweight or obese, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.

The winners were honoured in a ceremony at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Past recipients of the annual prize, founded in 1986 by Nobel laureate Norman Bourlag, include John Kufuour, a former president of Ghana and Grameen Bank founder and Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus of Bangladesh.

(Reporting By Thin Lei Win @thinink, Editing by Claire Cozens Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, corruption and climate change. Visit www.trust.org)

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Africa

Sublime Soul Diva Who Demanded Respect, Which Will be Forever Given

It is no coincidence that two of Aretha Franklin’s celebrated contemporaries who travelled to Detroit to see the… Read more »

See What Everyone is Watching

Copyright © 2018 Thomson Reuters Foundation. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 700 reports a day from more than 140 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.