UN: Pace of hunger reduction in Latam improves

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — Some 47 million people suffer from hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean, 3 million fewer than in the last survey, which covered an earlier three-year period, the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization said on Tuesday.

Slow economic growth and high levels of inequality are still impeding hunger reduction in the region, FAO said in a report released in the Chilean capital.

Economic growth during the 2000s “allowed for more job creation and increased income, but growth itself has not been able to meet the huge needs and inequalities of the region,” FAO said in its Panorama of Food and Nutritional Security 2013.

Haiti, Guatemala, Paraguay, Nicaragua and Bolivia suffer the highest rates of hunger.

The region, however, has made strides in the reduction of poverty and FAO says 16 countries have reached a target to reduce by half the number of people that suffer hunger.

The FAO said Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Venezuela, Barbados, Cuba, Dominica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines have already met its definition for the eradication of hunger, with 5 percent or less of the population living in hunger.

“If efforts are doubled and the positive economic and social tendencies are held, it’s possible that this generation of Latin Americans and Caribbeans will be the first one in history to see hunger and malnutrition eradicated,” the report said.

Agricultural commodities remain a key source of income for the region, which produces more food than required for its population. FAO says none of the nations should lack the minimum caloric quantities needed per person.

Still, many go hungry even as about 23 percent of adults and 7 percent of children in the pre-school level are overweight.

“Overweight and obesity are spreading like a pandemic,” it said. The FAO said that should be considered an urgent public health problem.

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Luis Andres Henao on Twitter: https://twitter.com/LuisAndresHenao

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