One in four hungry people in the world is an Indian
The number of obese adults in India has risen by a fourth in four years while the country’s undernourished population has dropped by roughly the same fraction in 12 years, according to a new United Nations report.
India’s GDP per capita grew at an average of 4.5 per cent between 1990 and 2017.
The poverty rate declined from 48.9 per cent in 1987 to 21.2 per cent in 2011—and to 13.4 per cent in 2015.
And yet, 194.4 million people in India are still undernourished. That, my dear friend, makes 24 per cent of the world’s share.
The number of undernourished people in the world has been on the rise since 2015, reaching an estimated 821 million in 2018. But in India, it reduced from 253.9 million in 2004-06 to 194.4 million in 2016-18, according to the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2019 report, released by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
And though this figure might indicate a sense of improvement, sample this: half of the world’s wasted children under five years of age are in India. Wasting, or low weight for height, is usually the result of acute significant food shortage and/or disease.
One in seven children worldwide are underweight; in India, it’s one in every five.
Moreover, two out of every five children in India suffers from stunting, or low height for age, which is caused by long-term insufficient nutrient intake and frequent infections.
It fell from 54.2 per cent to 38.4 per cent between 2000 and 2015, which is still a high prevalence, compared with a global average of 23.2 per cent in 2015.
However, the number of obese adults (18 years and older) in India has risen by a fourth in four years, from 24.1 million in 2012 to 32.8 million in 2016.
This denotes that income inequality in the country is high and is making it even more difficult for the poor, vulnerable, and marginalised to cope with economic slowdowns and downturns.
"We must foster pro-poor and inclusive structural transformation focusing on people and placing communities at the centre to reduce economic vulnerabilities and set ourselves on track to ending hunger, food insecurity and all forms of malnutrition," the UN report said.
The report added that although southern Asia saw great progress over the last five years, at almost 15 per cent, it is still the subregion with the highest prevalence of undernourishment—it still affects 11 per cent of the population.