Food is life! Food, a universal link!
Famine or malnutrition, a scourge!
An observation: 820 million people in the world (60% of whom are women) in 2020, suffer from hunger and the first victims are children, 3 millions of them die. According to a 2020 United Nations report, a child dies of hunger every 13 seconds in the world and it is one every 10 minutes in Yemen!
Walls are going up all over the world. 5 times more numerous today than at the beginning of the 20th century, whether they are tangible or invisible, walls are a source of separation, confinement, exclusion, fragility, famine and ultimately, transgression… And today, food has become a weapon of war, as we are witnessing with the behavior of Russia at war with Ukraine, the world’s granary, which has blocked the ports and thus the export of wheat and grain intended to feed more than 400 million people. Russia, agricultural giant, holds the society of the planet in its hands with a methodical strategy! Starving people is a terrible way to make war.
Why do women suffer more from hunger in the world ?
According to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization), the risk of food insecurity is 10% higher for women.
Why is this?
Conflicts, climate change, epidemics, poverty and inequalities, including gender injustices, are both the cause and the consequence of hunger, creating a vicious circle for women! Breaking this circle would help reduce hunger in the world. In many parts of the world, women face gender-based social norms such as food deprivation. Being responsible for feeding their families, they make sure they have fed others before thinking about themselves.
In some countries, the culture forces menstruating women not to feed with men and to make do with the leftovers,
The trauma of physical or sexual violence against women can affect their nutrition and health. Loss of appetite, loss of will to feed oneself or one’s family is a common symptom of the depression generated.
When a breastfeeding mother is traumatized, it can affect her ability to breastfeed. After violent trauma, many mothers no longer produce milk and are unable to meet the needs of their children, who are weakened and unable to cope with hunger and undernutrition. While this mode of feeding, when possible, is strongly advised by the medical profession!
Sexual violence can be used as a weapon against civilian populations in a conflict context.
A world free of hunger is only possible in a world free of gender-based violence and injustice!
Famine, a food threat with lack of water and drought, undernutrition, malnutrition due to climate or war, is a source of tragedy ranging from disease to death. A part of the earth is terribly impacted by the climate and cannot feed itself!
Water is life, we are made of water and cannot live without water, it is vital!
The United Nations estimates that the demand for water will increase by 50% by 2030, due to the increase of the world population, the increase of the needs of agriculture and industry as well as the consumption of energy, etc. …. In other words, tomorrow!
The world is changing and nothing is moving. Natural resources are poorly distributed, this creates a global food tension. The battle of water will be the stake of the future.
How do we end this food discrimination?
For example, in 2016, “Action Against Hunger” launched the “Porridge Moms” program in the war-torn Borno State of Nigeria. This program aims to provide mothers with nutritional guidance each day, the “Porridge Moms” gather and prepare nutritious meals for themselves and their children – not just the men. As they cook, the moms learn and share information with each other about nutrition, healthy childcare practices and good hygiene. They receive a monthly stipend to pay for food.
As another example, “Zero Hunger” is at the top of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the UN’s 2030 Agenda adopted in September 2015 by its 193 member states. This goal includes eliminating hunger and all forms of malnutrition. The United Nations agency dedicated to food and agriculture (better known by its acronym FAO: Food and Agriculture Organization) is, at the international level, the main actor in this field and had chosen the theme “Acting for the future – healthy food for a #hungerfree world” for World Food Day on October 16, 2019, in a context of profound changes in our food and eating habits over the past decades.
After decades of steady decline, the trend of world hunger has remained virtually unchanged over the past three years, at just under 11% of the world’s population. Poor countries are the most affected, especially in Africa where undernourishment affects nearly 20% of its inhabitants, while 11.4% of the population is undernourished in Asia, 6.1% in Latin America and the Caribbean, 7% in Oceania, and less than 2.5% in North America and Europe. Beyond hunger, 17.2% of the world’s population, or 1.3 billion people, are severely food insecure and do not have regular access to sufficient nutritious food, which exposes them to various forms of malnutrition. In total, more than 2 billion people are food insecure. In addition, there are countries in an aggravated situation such as Congo, Iraq, Burundi, Zambia, Guatemala, Palestine, Comoros, Pakistan and Burkina Faso (OMS 2016).
According to the UN report, are preparing to die of hunger: Yemen, Nigeria, Ethiopia and South Sudan!
At the same time, 1.9 billion people are overweight…
…including 672 million adults, 120 million young people (5 to 19 years old) and 15% of women, who are obese or overweight (15.3 million in China, 14.4 million in India)! If the fight against hunger in the world has been a constant concern for more than seventy years, the effects of a plethoric and unbalanced diet have only been taken into consideration much later and actions to curb their impact on health are limited to the treatment of pathological effects (diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancers, …) 24% of obese people in France!
Because there is a link between mental health and diet and many diseases occur. Chronic and non-communicable diseases have therefore become a growing concern in all countries, regardless of income level.
“One of the most effective ways to address NCDs is to increase investments in affordable, quality primary health care,” says Dr. Muhammad Pate, global director of Health, Nutrition and Population.
Despite the increase in life expectancy, the rise of chronic and non-communicable diseases is now a threat.
“The fight against obesity and the call for physical activity accentuate the tendency to turn to those accounts that correspond to the ideal of thinness,” he says, recalling the alarming statements of the WHO on an “epidemic of obesity” in Europe. In Ireland or Qatar, it is galloping! In Europe 59% of adults, including nearly 27% of girls, are overweight or obese!
Diabetes is “one of the world’s biggest killers” according to the WHO
And when it does not kill, it remains heavy with consequences, the side effects of the disease can include amputations, blindness, cardiovascular disorders…
Anorexia (loss of appetite): Medically recognized eating disorder and orthorexia (or obsession with eating healthy) do not meet a scientific consensus and could be associated with an obsessive behavioural disorder. Nevertheless, both affect mainly women, younger in anorexia. 44% of French women are concerned by these disorders with the sequence of periods of restriction and excess!
– An unbalanced diet with deficiencies, illness, poisoning, allergy and intoxication
In total, bad eating habits and unhealthy eating cause one fifth of the deaths in the world and they have a strong impact on health expenses with a global cost estimated at 2000 billion dollars per year.
In Western countries, the change in eating habits has accompanied urbanization as well as changes in family meals linked to the evolution of women’s work. In addition, there has been a change in behaviour: encouraged by a formidable marketing campaign, the modern “eater” devours beyond what is reasonable. Whether greedy or compulsive, the rush on these practical and seductive foods feeds quantitatively more than necessary and qualitatively less well because of the imbalances it causes (mainly in sugar consumption).
The growing offer of prepared products that we only have to unpack and reheat (if needed) or of a nomadic food that we will find in fast food restaurants has facilitated the outsourcing of the preparation of meals outside the home and has allowed the development of an important economic sector.
In the section “Take Action”, subtitled “Recipe for a healthy life”, the FAO gives useful information on food choices, choices for the planet and life choices. It concludes by reminding us that everyone has a role to play: Farmers and food companies, Governments and institutions, and other private actors. May she be heard!
In the agricultural sector, if women had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase their farm yields by 20 to 30%. Moreover, the number of hungry people in the world would decrease by about 12% to 17%.
In Ethiopia, in Tigray, escalating violence and growing insecurity, coupled with one of the worst droughts in 40 years, they walk nearly 260 kilometres in search of water and pasture for their livestock. In Senegal, collecting water takes 17 hours a week!
In France, with uncontrolled inflation and soaring prices, 6 out of 10 French people are now giving up on hygiene or food expenses, 44% of French women are concerned about their relationship with food (61% among 16–24-year-olds).
The government and some associations announce food aid measures for students: an exceptional envelope of 10 M€ is released, which is the equivalent of at least 300 000 food parcels allowing a student to feed himself during one week. The country will adopt a policy of aid to the most disadvantaged, energy vouchers, food vouchers. We organized a food week in November.
In Tunisia, the UNFT chose the International Women’s Day to organize, among other activities, workshops on waste recovery, environmental preservation, and presentation/sale of ecological products.
In Australia, people often change their diets as well as their level of physical activity, leading to problems with weight gain and increased risk of blood pressure and certain cancer.
The main problems are the association of high-calorie foods with sugary drinks, sweets and fats, and the lack of access to traditional fruits and vegetables, their quality and preparation.
People don’t know that tap water is good to drink and rush to the other more caloric drinks!
– The project taught men from refugee backgrounds to cook simple meals as part of their English classes using one simple and cheap appliance a rice cooker.
– Nutrition research: food and beverage choices of the South Sudanese community. The result of the research will be used to design future strategies to help community members make healthy food choices. More information: healthynewcommunities@health_gld_gov-au
In Lebanon, Syria, food insecurity 11 years into the conflict,
What about communication on these topics ?
Like magazines, social networks advocate an ideal of thinness that can contribute to the development of eating disorders such as anorexia. They also allow the creation of support communities, with the risk however of “locking” the patients in this pathology.
Because communication can generate and/or cure eating disorders depending on the messages, the networks and the credibility that comes with it …… The phenomenon is not new: blogs in favor of anorexia or for bulimia have experienced a boom in the early 2010s. They have been removed by the hosts but find new forms on social networks, note specialists on the occasion of the World Day of the TCA (eating disorders), this Thursday, June 2.
The “challenges” are challenges launched on TikTok or Instagram, most often by young people to other young people. Like the one called “the A4 sheet”: to win, their waistline must measure only 21 centimetres, the width of an A4 sheet. This can only be achieved by going without food for a long time.
The networks contain thousands of accounts advocating slimness and can create complexes in adolescents. For Valentin Flaudias, lecturer in clinical psychology at Nantes University, the infatuation of young people towards these accounts of thin, healthy and sporty personalities, comes first of all from “the message conveyed by society”.
And the pandemic, which we have just lived, with its important batch of exchanges on Internet has worsened the eating disorders!
Conclusions and suggested solutions :
We must act on magazines and social networks (TIK TOK and Instagram) that bring together millions of influential people through ubiquitous communication, let’s use these means of communication by promoting exchanges with doctors, psychologists, educators in order to raise awareness, train women in the vital role that balanced diet plays.
– It is necessary to sensitize the governments, to fight against the speculation in the sector of the raw materials!
– It is necessary to promote food sovereignty, to produce at home and to buy locally because if we manufacture at home and/or ensure more stock we guarantee a more important security of supply. For example, in France, solidarity is being organized with cooperatives, sales on the Internet which, moreover, allow less temptation and therefore less wastage, the economy is often made on food.
– It is necessary to change the ways of eating and to respect the ecology, to privilege the short circuits, to give the means to the “true” Bio, to return to cooking which brings good being and health and especially that food is not the variable of adjustment of the purchasing power! About 7% of food insecurity, about 35 years ago food represented 30% of the budget, today about 12% with the search for more quality and more local. Beware of speculation in the raw materials market and the sale of goods by mutual agreement between buyers and producers
– It is necessary to write a booklet of food balance for the use of women and children
– It is necessary to clear labelling and use it to educate
– It is necessary to propose a model that allows the entire planet to feed itself and live longer
– It is necessary to share our experiences, failures and successes. This will be an effective and efficient label.
– It is necessary to create a policy to put pressure on the actors and the government
– It is necessary to propose a new model and science must work!
– We need a Right to Food for all as it is a duty to feed your people!
Different so-called “developed” countries see the spectre of hunger coming, especially when work is no longer enough to feed oneself, is this the beginning of the revolution?
Famine is increasing and so is the world population, we are 8 billion and will be 9.3 billion in 2050 and this will be the origin of massive population movements.
Women are the first actors of climate change mitigation (with water management?) and I always thought that peace would come through them!
ICW-CIF Advisor for Nutrition
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