Iran selected WHO regional base for nutrition, food industry

October 28, 2020 - 13:28

TEHRAN – The World Health Organization (WHO) selected the National Institute of Nutrition and Food Industry Research of Iran as the regional base of cooperation in the nutrition science and food industry for Eastern Mediterranean countries.

The importance of food and nutrition in the world these days is felt more than ever, so much so that in some developed countries the issue of establishing the Ministry of Food and Nutrition has been raised, Jalaledddin Mirzaei Razzaz, head of the Nutrition and Food Technology Research Institute said.

In Iran, the ministries of health and agriculture were commissioned to make arrangements for food independence, he stated, ISNA reported on Monday.

At this time, Iran was in close competition with countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and finally, Iran was selected with the efforts made by the Ministry of Health, he explained.

He expressed hope that such international cooperation improves food and nutrition in addition to people's health.

Hunger increases worldwide

A report jointly prepared by FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP, and WHO shows that currently around 690 million people or 8.9 percent of the world population are hungry. Compared to the previous figures, this number is up by 10 million people in one year and by nearly 60 million in five years.

“The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020” also indicates that the number of people affected by severe food insecurity has experienced a similar upward trend over the last five years. In 2019, close to 750 million—or nearly one in ten people in the world—were exposed to severe levels of food insecurity.

The figures reveal that about 2 billion people in the world did not have regular access to safe, nutritious, and sufficient food in 2019.

Considering the widespread impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is estimated that the pandemic may add between 83 and 132 million people to the total number of undernourished in the world in 2020 depending on the economic growth scenario.

Also, the nutritional status of the most vulnerable population groups is likely to deteriorate further due to the health and socio-economic impacts of COVID-19.

While the burden of malnutrition in all its forms remains a challenge for the world, current estimates reveal that in 2019, 21.3 percent (144 million) of children under 5 years of age were stunted, 6.9 percent (47 million) wasted, and 5.6 percent (38.3 million) overweight.

The report states that healthy diets are unaffordable to many people, especially the poor, in every region of the world. The most conservative estimate shows they are unaffordable for more than 3 billion people in the world. Healthy diets are estimated to be, on average, five times more expensive than diets that meet only dietary energy needs through a starchy staple.

Under current food consumption patterns, diet-related health costs linked to mortality and non-communicable diseases are projected to exceed $1.3 trillion per year by 2030.

On the other hand, the diet-related social cost of greenhouse gas emissions associated with current dietary patterns is estimated to be more than $1.7 trillion per year by 2030.

Iran’s undernourishment prevalence

According to the report, Iran experienced a relative reduction in the prevalence of undernourishment in its total population, dropping from 5.2 percent in the period of 2004-2006 to 4.7 percent in the period of 2017-2019. However, despite this improvement, the net number of people experiencing undernourishment increased from 3.6 to 3.9 million.


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