Greater concern for obesity than for hunger in Latin America
24 enero 2018


Non communicable diseases. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), the region has the potential to become the main global guarantor of food security and its problem lies in obesity, rather than malnutrition or traditional famine. The populations most affected by this condition are women and children, making the food sector responsible for the inconvenience generated by the habits of “bad eating” or “fast food”.

José Graziano da Silva (director of the FAO) warned about the epidemic of excessive consumption, represented in the disproportionate intake of salt, sugar, saturated fat and fried foods. Some of the necessary measures to counteract the present situation are regulatory incentives in favor of healthy diets and food diversification, which seek to avoid noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes or heart problems. It should be noted that 58% of Latin Americans are above their ideal weight, with Bahamas, Mexico and Chile presenting the worst scenarios.

However, the region is a large processed food factory and smart industrialization could lead to employment generation and increased international competitiveness. This is the opinion of Argentinian Manuel Otero (new director of IICA), who plans to give greater prominence to rural territories – converted into areas of progress on the basis of new technologies.

On the other hand, FAO is also working with the government of Mexico City to promote short agrifood chains and avoid intermediation. This mechanism (known under the name “Producer Model”) makes it possible to avoid significant increases in prices, while at the same time making the economy more solid and fair by bringing producers and consumers together in a space of dialogue. In this way, food and nutrition security is also consolidated -replicating the example of Peru or the United States in the Aztec country to reinforce people’s taste for a healthy system.

Next steps

Between April 3rd and 5th, FAO will hold an International Symposium on Agroecology in the city of Rome, Italy. The objective of the event will be to propose lines of political action to promote agroecology, as a way to combat both malnutrition and obesity in a sustainable way. The event will convene not only political decision makers, but also representatives of civil society and the private sector.