SANTIAGO – Hunger in Latin America increased in 2018 and affected 42.5 million people, 6.5 percent of the region’s population, where food insecurity also spread and where obesity continues to be a critical problem, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned this Tuesday.
The 42.5 million Latin Americans who suffered from hunger in 2018 signified an increase of 4.5 million over the 38 million reported in 2014, the FAO said.
That increase took place almost entirely in South American countries, where the number of the undernourished grew by 4.7 million over four years.
The figures form part of the “2018 Panorama of Food and Nutrition Security” report developed together with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), UNICEF and the World Food Program (WFP).
The report, released this Tuesday at the regional FAO headquarters in Santiago, noted that Haiti proportionally suffers far more hunger than any other country in the region, almost half the population (49.3 percent).
In absolute terms, Venezuela is the country with the greatest rise in malnutrition, going from 2.9 million people between 2013-2015 to 6.8 million in the 2016-2018 period.
A country-by-country analysis of the figures shows a great heterogeneity in the war on hunger. Outstanding among the nations conquering this blight is Colombia, which went from 3.6 million to 2.4 million people over the two 3-year periods, along with Mexico, Bolivia and the Dominican Republic.
The countries with the lowest percentage of malnutrition, under 2.5 percent of the population, are Brazil, Cuba and Uruguay. Chile comes close to this group with a percentage of 2.7 percent, the report said.
Besides hunger, in recent years overweight and obesity have become the principal challenges in matters of food security.
According to FAO data, 24 percent of the Latin American population, some 105 million people, suffer from obesity, almost double the world average, which stands at 13.2 percent.
And for every individual suffering from hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean, more than six are overweight or obese, a problem on the rise in all segments of the population from adults to school-age children.