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Food matters

An analysis by Food and Agricultural Organization, in the report “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World”, showed healthy diets are expensive and beyond the reach of millions of people. The researchers said large populations worldwide had limited or no access to three important types of diets – energy sufficient, nutrient adequate and healthy – due to high costs.

“For the poorest people, acquiring sufficient quantities of essential nutrients and nutritious food groups would consume a very large proportion of their total income, or even exceed it,” researcher Anna Herforth and colleagues said.

According to Herforth and her team, the average cost of a diverse, healthy diet across the world was $3.69 per day in 2017. The estimated cost might vary per country, but the researchers noted that healthy diets will still be expensive everywhere in contrast to the average incomes of most people across the globe.

In terms of affordability, the analysis showed that at least three billion of the world’s population in 2017 cannot afford a healthy diet. Affordability was defined as whether someone can afford it if they spend 63 percent of their income on food.

Data breakdown provided by Our World in Data said that, in the Philippines, 64.25 percent of Filipinos cannot afford a healthy diet worth $4.08 per day during the research period.

In a 2020 paper, FAO reported that at least 59 million Filipinos considered themselves food insecure between 2017 and 2019. Of the sum, 18.8 million were considered severely food insecure while around 15.4 million were found to be undernourished. It noted that among Southeast Asian countries, the Philippines had the highest count of food-insecure citizens.

According to UNICEF, sustainable, responsive, resilient and functional food systems are needed to enable better and healthier diets and the role of government is crucial in developing and implementing programs and policies that address the production, distribution, accessibility, and utilization of food in the country.

As the saying goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. In the Philippines where food insecurity has been a problem even before the Covid-19 pandemic, government has to be more involved in ensuring that Filipinos have access to healthy and nutritious pudding that can be eaten in order to prove that food insecurity among our countrymen is truly being taken seriously and addressed.*

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