Half of the world’s hungry people live in Asia-Pacific; Southern Asia worst affected: FAO

A new report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations revealed that in 2022, there were 55 million more undernourished people in Asia than in 2012, with Southern Asia being the most affected. Around half of all malnourished people and those who are food insecure live in Asia-Pacific, and Southern Asia is the subregion with the most food insecure individuals.

Asia and Pacific Regional Overview on Food Security and Nutrition in 2023: Statistics and Trends.

In addition, the report found that women in all subregions fared better than men in terms of food insecurity. The exception was Eastern Asia. Nearly one-tenth (10) of women suffer from severe food insecurity, while one-fourth (24%) have moderate food security.

The World Health Assembly’s global nutrition goals for women of reproductive age are still not being met. FAO also found that stunting, obesity, and wasting rates among children under five years of age are on the rise. Southern Asia had the highest percentage of children aged under five who were affected by wasting compared to world averages in 2022 – 14.3 percent.

The report stated that the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the “5Fs”, or food, fuel, fertilizers, and finance, crisis, had a devastating impact on the region. It is still feeling the long-term consequences of these crises. Asia-Pacific still represents half of all malnourished populations in the world, with a total of 370.7 million.

The report concluded that higher prices for food, fuels, animal feed, and fertilizers are contributing to the problem of malnutrition. According to the latest statistics available from the UN and FAO, the cost of a nutritious diet increased by 5.3% on average in purchasing power parity. In Asia-Pacific, the average price per person of a healthy meal was estimated to be 4.15 dollars in purchasing power parity per day.

A healthy diet is out of reach for 232.8 million people in the Asia-Pacific region, according to the report. This represents 85 percent of the total population of malnourished individuals. In the South-West Pacific Islands, where one out of five people are undernourished, the situation is worse per capita.

In 2021, 1.9 billion people in the region could not afford to eat a healthy meal. This is an increase of 80.4 million people since 2020.

In Asia and the Pacific, the undernutrition rate fell from 8.8 to 8.4 percent in 2022. This is a reduction of 12 million people compared to 2021. It was still 55 million more people than in 2019 before the COVID-19 Pandemic.

In 2021, Southern Asia was the region with the largest number of people (1.4 billion). South-eastern Asia is second, with 357.4 million people. This represents an increase of 8.4 million (or 0.9%) since 2020.

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