Importance of feeding: beyond health
Poor nutrition has repercussions not only on the individual’s own health, but also on the economic, social and environmental levels. Whether by choice or due to external factors, such as poverty, nutrition is an aspect worth analyzing from all aspects.
The importance of feeding is not only subscribed to the health factor, but is also relevant in many other aspects. We know that a balanced diet is the basis for good health and optimal performance, both physical and mental; however, not everyone has the possibility to choose the best foods to bring to their table.
This leads to ailments that can range from the simplest; such as halitosis problems or mild gastric discomfort, through infections and diarrhea, to severe diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, overweight, cardiovascular disease, some forms of cancer, anemia, malnutrition and starvation.
In this sense, malnutrition is one of the most serious challenges facing humanity and impacts not only on human health, but also on the development process of nations.
The Global Nutrition Report 2020 states that malnutrition is one of the main causes of disease and mortality worldwide. Marginalized communities are the most vulnerable, as they lack preventive treatment and access to medical care, and nutritious food is out of reach. It is estimated that approximately one in nine people in the world suffer from hunger, with some regions in Africa, Asia and Latin America being the worst affected.
According to the Investment Framework for Nutrition (IFN), achieving the World Health Assembly (WHA) nutrition targets requires, an average annual investment of about 7 billion dollars is required over and above existing spending levels, a level that would need to be maintained for more than ten years to finance the underlying problems of undernutrition. By 2025, this would help save the lives of 3.7 million children, reduce stunting by 65 million, reduce the number of women with anemia by 43%, and treat 91 million cases of serious diseases. Within this framework, a package of priority interventions was estimated to cost approximately 2.3 billion dollars per year.
The economic costs of undernutrition are significant. In terms of lost productivity and economic growth, they range between 2% and 3% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), reaching up to 11% of GDP each year in some African and Asian countries, according to data from the World Bank (WB), which has stated that these losses are avoidable if sufficient investments are made to ensure adequate nutrition.
Today, government investment in nutrition is insufficient, with the most neglected areas being education, to which only 7.3% of the budget is allocated, and water and sanitation, with only 12.1 percent.
The eating habits of individuals and nations in general not only have repercussions on health and the economy, but also have a profound impact on the environment.
According to information from the United Nations (UN), 30% of anthropogenic greenhouse gases come from the feeding industry, 30% of forests are deforested due to the expansion of croplands, 30% of marine resources are overexploited and 9% of the planet’s water resources disappear as a result of the meat industry.
If we continue at this rate, by 2050 cropland will have expanded by 42% and fertilizer use will increase by up to 45% over the levels of ten years ago.
UN recommendations to alleviate the above problems include the following:
- Maintain a balanced diet so as not to overexploit resources.
- Consume local and preferably seasonal products to reduce transportation emissions.
- Choose the most environmentally friendly packaging, such as cardboard, reusable or biodegradable packaging; avoiding unnecessary or highly polluting wrappings such as unicel or single-use plastics.
- Include fruits and vegetables in the diet, since animal products have a greater impact on the environment and require more resources in their production.
- Minimize food waste. About one third of the food produced in the world is wasted. This implies a waste of the resources that have been used for its production.
Whether by taking care of our own eating habits or investing in healthy feeding, we can be of great help to humanity.