In his speech to health ministers from G7 countries, José Graziano da Silva stressed the need to transform food systems and to ensure urgent action is taken in fighting malnutrition – noting that after years of lowering levels of malnutrition, levels of chronic undernourishment are again rising.
The rise is the first time malnutrition levels have rising in a decade – and has been put down to increased conflict and climate change.
"About one in three persons globally suffers from at least one form of malnutrition: be it hunger, micronutrient deficiencies, or overweight and obesity,” said the FAO Director-General, adding that more than 2 billion people suffer from one or more micronutrient deficiencies and nearly 1.9 billion people of adults are overweight.
“Unless we take urgent and effective action, more than half of the world's population will suffer from at least one type of malnutrition by 2030," he said. "It is our collective responsibility to ensure that every person on this planet has access to food that is safe, sufficient and nutritious."
‘From farm to fork’
Underscoring the impact that urbanization is having on food production and consumption, the Graziano da Silva cited the ongoing transition towards diets consisting of more processed foods.
Consumers should be encouraged to buy more fresh food, relying less on packaged and frozen products, he said.
"Transforming food systems to promote healthy diets means taking action in each step of the food chain, from farm to fork,” said Graziano da Silva. "Fortunately, many cities of the world are becoming more and more aware of the importance of promoting local markets and also local fresh products."
He also noted that in a world where the food supply chain has become global, ensuring food safety is ‘fundamental’, warning that incidents and breaches of food safety can have a negative impact around the world, “not only on public health, but also on trade and the economy.”