NEW YORK – The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has warned that any country that does not pay attention to nutrition of its citizens will pay dearly in health costs.
Ms Anna Lartey, the Director of Nutrition Division of the FAO gave the warning in New York, ahead of the second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) taking place in Rome.
More than 100 ministers and representatives from civil society groups will gather from Nov. 19, to Nov. 21, at FAO Headquarters in Rome for the conference.
At the conference, delegates will adopt the Rome Declaration on Nutrition and a 60-point Framework of Action meant to guide national policy commitments.
Lartey, who also warned that countries which paid less attention to citizen’s nutrition would pay dearly for loss of productivity, said loss of productivity could significantly reduce a country’s economic development.
She said the FAO had released a pocket-size compendium dedicated to the state of nutrition worldwide, highlighting trends on micronutrient deficiencies, obesity and non-communicable diseases from 1990 to the present.
She added that “the pocketbook data shows that while progress has been made in reducing the percentage of hungry people globally, some two billion people are still micronutrient deficient.
“This means they lack the vitamins and minerals needed to lead healthy and production lives.’’
In his comments, Josef Schmidhuber, the Deputy Director of FAO’s Statistics Division, said “the pocketbook is a useful reference for policy makers, as it provides an overview of various aspects of nutrition at country, regional and global levels.
“We live in a world of plenty and it’s remarkable how much more food agriculture has produced over the past decades.
“What is equally remarkable is that in this world of plenty, we still have 800 million who don’t consume enough calories and two billion who don’t eat well.
“The pocketbook also offers indicators on the links between nutrition, health and the environment.’’
Meanwhile, the Rome conference, jointly organised with the UN World Health Organisation (WHO), will bring together relevant ministries, agencies and organisations to identify priorities for enhanced international cooperation on nutrition.
According to FAO, the global economy, food systems and the nutritional status of populations have changed significantly since the first global conference on nutrition in 1992.
The Agency says a new policy framework and more appropriate responses are needed, with now more than half the world’s population affected by malnutrition. (NAN)