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Chance of meeting obesity targets ‘less than 1%’

Obesity levels are on the rise across the world with almost every country now facing a serious nutrition-related challenge.

This year’s Global Nutrition Report found that 2 billion of the world’s 7 billion people are now overweight or obese, meaning there is a less than 1% chance of meeting the global target of halting the rise in obesity and diabetes by 2025.

The global epidemic of overweight and obesity is affecting high and lower income countries alike. At least 10 million children in Africa are now classified as overweight and one third of North American men (33%) and women (34%) are obese. In Europe, 21% of men and 23% of women are categorised as obese.

Although rates of undernutrition in children are decreasing, the report said that global progress is not fast enough to meet internationally agreed nutrition goals, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) target to end all forms of malnutrition by 2030.

Data shows that 155 million under-fives are stunted; while 52 million children worldwide are defined as wasted, meaning they do not weigh enough for their height.

Rising rates of anaemia in women of reproductive age are also cited as a concern with almost one in three women affected worldwide and no country on track to meet global targets.

“The world can’t afford not to act on nutrition or we risk putting the brakes on human development as a whole,” said Corinna Hawkes, co-chair of the Global Nutrition Report’s independent expert group and director of the Centre for Food Policy at City University London. “We will not achieve any of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development by the 2030 deadline unless there is a critical step change in our response to malnutrition in all its forms. Equally, we need action throughout the goals to tackle the many causes of malnutrition.”

The report said that steps to improve nutrition could have a powerful multiplier effect across the SDGs including goals to make food production more sustainable. It said that policies and investments to maintain and increase the diversity of agricultural landscapes are needed to ensure small and medium-sized farms can continue to produce the 53–81% of key micronutrients they do now.