North and south, east and west. The world has always put forward dichotomies that go far beyond the mere geographical position: cultural, economic, and social differences; diverse lifestyles, respect for human rights, growth potential and limits.
For years, the stereotype of the rich West and poor third world has accompanied the awareness campaigns on rights equality and global opportunities. After decades of conferences and centuries of history, today the situation is still the same, perhaps even more complex. In fact, the world is no longer characterized only by social and economic very evident imbalances between rich and poor nations, but also by iniquities among different groups of population inside single countries. As in many other cases, food is what reflects this situation.
World Health Organization has published new data on food-related contradictions around the world; and according to WHO, in 2014 the number of malnourished people kept growing in both directions, reaching around 2 billion overweight and 462 million underweight adults. The data indicate that in the world there are over 600 million obese people, while 528 million women are suffering from anemia due to their diet. An even more daunting scenario concerns the weakest, that is, children.
Still according to WHO, there are 41 million children under five years of age who are overweight or obese, while as many as 159 million are suffering from slow growth and 50 million are too thin for their height. Tragic figures, especially for the poorest countries with low per capita income, where nearly 5 million children die every year due to malnutrition-related causes. Unfortunately, these are the same countries where childhood obesity is growing at a steady pace and 30% faster compared to wealthy countries. It is not true that in rich countries people eat “more”, people eat “better” there, i.e., they have the possibility (and culture) to choose. And this is something impossible in some other places, and people oscillate between hunger and eating indiscriminately.
Children need special attention, even at an early age, because malnutrition early in life may predispose to serious consequences as adults. Therefore, according to WHO, “it is important to develop integrated actions against malnutrition in all its manifestations”. We still lack a global nutrition policy; it is a fact; although – observing the way the powerful of the Earth manage the existent resources -, it does not come as a surprise.