Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Soaring healthy food prices source of malnutrition

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) says high food prices could help explain why countries such as Botswana continue to struggle with a double burden of malnutrition extremes.

The report states in clear cut terms that most people in developing countries do not only have low income, but also live in poor food systems where their money cannot buy them the healthy and nutritious food they really want.

In the study IFPRI states that the majority of non-cereal foods and nutritious foods is quite expensive in low-income countries.

Research done prior to this report mainly focused on the link between nutritious food prices and obesity, however this research is the first to study the link between food prices and under-nutrition.

IFPRI compared more than 657 food products using the World Bank’s International Comparison Program (ICP). ICP is a worldwide initiative under the auspices of the United Nations Statistical Commission and is the main statistical resource for surveying prices of highly standardised (comparable) goods and services that are widely consumed across a region or globally.

Speaking to The Telegraph, dietician and food nutritionist, Lebogang Kopela said: “What we can conclude from this study is that as a country gets richer, unhealthy foods get cheaper and conversely as country gets poorer, healthy foods get expensive. “This explains why majority of countries in Africa, especially Botswana, have malnutrition problems.” adding that this should be a wake-up call to Botswana to start improving the food systems so that it delivers healthy foods more cheaply.

“Botswana must now start looking into nutrition-sensitive agriculture where emphasis is placed on agricultural investment in nutrient-dense foods rather than staple foods. This will help the citizens to have access to affordable nutritious foods,” says Kopela.

The IFPRI provides research-based policy solutions to sustainably reduce poverty and end hunger and malnutrition in developing countries

Malnutrition is a condition that results from eating a diet which does not supply healthy amounts of calories, protein and micronutrients.

This includes diets that have too little nutrients or so many that the diet causes health problems. Malnutrition also covers issues such as under-nutrition, which includes wasting (low weight-for-height), stunting (low height-for-age) and underweight (low weight-for-age).


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