Poor diet causes greater risks than TB or Malaria

Poor diet causes greater risks than TB or Malaria

Revathy Menon

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation [FAO] in a report co-authored with the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition said that poor diet is a greater threat than diseases like Tuberculosis, Malaria and Measles. Today diet related factors account for 6 of the top 9 contributors to the global burden of disease.

Today the world is producing more food than it needs yet an estimated 3 billion people have inadequate diets according to the report. ‘Every year approximately 1.3 billion metric tonnes of food produced for human consumption- one third of the total, never reaches the consumer’s plate or bowl’ stated the report.

It has been suggested in the report that eating of more nutrient rich food already being produced would result in savings to land, water and energy consumption associated to food production. The report recommends higher consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. The rising demand is for a healthy diet rather than one of calorie sufficiency.

In 2016, worldwide, one in five deaths was associated with poor diets. Nutrient rich foods such as legumes, nuts, fruits and vegetables should be included in the diet to ensure better health. As much of the food produced is wasted during production, transport or storage, it is imperative to seek better methods for these. Wastage of food must be reduced so that it reaches the plates of the needy.

As per FAO definition Food security exists when all people at all times have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food which meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.

It is an undeniable fact that a well-balanced diet goes hand in hand with a healthy life. Many disease can be staved off by a healthy diet. Children are the most visible victims of under nutrition. It has been estimated that under nutrition – including stunting, wasting, deficiencies of Vitamin A and Zinc and foetal growth restriction is a cause of 3.1 million child deaths annually. Under-nutrition magnifies the effect of every disease including Measles and Malaria.

[Inputs from FAO reports]