Urban food insecurity and malnutrition are about more than just food

Food insecurity, malnutrition and obesity are increasingly becoming urban issues, affecting the health of millions of children and adults.

© Abenaa | istockphoto

Urban poverty and poor diets are inextricably linked. With most of the world’s population now living in urban centres, and particularly in the burgeoning cities of the global South, it is imperative to understand the reasons behind a lack of access to healthy diets. The problems of food insecurity and malnutrition are driven by both the income and non-income dimensions of urban poverty.

The urbanisation of food insecurity and malnutrition 

After decades of decline, global hunger is increasing. In 2019, UN agencies estimate that more than 2 billion people do not have regular access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food, and more than 820 million – one out of every nine people – face chronic food deprivation.

At the same time, overweight and obesity continue to increase, especially among adults and school-age children. This is now described as an epidemic: more than one in eight adults is obese.  

This ‘new’ form of malnutrition is concentrated in cities and towns. Urban areas are home to the majority of overweight and obese adults and one in three stunted children. To achieve Sustainable Development Goal target 2.2 of eliminating all forms of malnutrition, we need to understand and address what drives malnutrition in urban areas.

More at IIED

Cecilia Tacoli | International Institute for environment and Development (IIED)
| https://www.iied.org/urban-food-insecurity-malnutrition-are-about-more-just-food

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