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Being malnourished is "the new normal", according to the 2016 Global Nutrition Report, in no small measure due to rapidly rising obesity levels.

Being malnourished is "the new normal", authors of the 2016 Global Nutrition Report warn along with the shocking message that one in three people across the globe now fall into that category. Yet, the face of malnutrition has changed enormously, and the true state of affairs probably doesn't reflect what you first think about upon hearing the word "malnourished".

Obesity And Malnutrition

Forty-four percent of countries around the world are now struggling with "very serious levels" of both malnutrition and obesity, the survey of 123 countries revealed, showing that malnutrition is no longer the primarily the domain of areas affected by famine and chronic food shortage. Malnourished individuals are now nearly as likely to be obese as starving — malnutrition, after all, simply means that a person's nutritional needs are grossly undermet, and that can be the case even when someone is obese.

While people are now increasingly likely to struggle with the health consequences of excess sugar, salt, or cholesterol in their blood, eating more than enough calories doesn't in any way exclude someone from lacking essential nutrients. People are suffering from malnutrition as a direct result of obesity in the hundreds of millions today, we now know.

Soon, the report indicates, we'll have just as many children under the age of five who are overweight as those who are underweight.

Perhaps even more shockingly, though the countries included in the survey showed a global tendency towards fighting underweight and a lack of food, there is no such progress when it comes to tackling the worldwide obesity problem.

Professor Corinna Hawkes, one of the lead authors of the study, said: "You have outcomes like you are too thin, you're not growing fast enough… or it could mean that you're overweight or you have high blood sugar, which leads to diabetes." She added that the current survey is "redefining what the world thinks of as being malnourished".

Key Findings Of The 2016 Global Nutrition Report

Should you be interested in finding out more about the state of global nutrition, the full report is available online and linked underneath. The 182-page report is well worth reading through. In the meantime, however, here are some of its key findings.

  • "Malnutrition and poor diets constitute the number-one driver of the global burden of disease," the authors wrote, adding that malnutrition, whether caused by a lack of food or a lack of nutritious food, leads to a cascade of social and economic consequences that affect all of us, economically if not directly.
  • Many of the countries involved in the survey are well on their way to implementing strategies against growth stunting and overweight in children under five. Exclusive breastfeeding has also become more prevalent. However, significant improvements are not being made in the area of fighting overweight in adults, diabetes, anemia among women, and obesity. Obesity rates are rising all over the world.
  • Implementing the strategies proposed by the World Health Organization can quickly lead to better outcomes.

The 2016 Global Nutrition Report calls our attention to a very serious problem. The Earth has more than enough food to feed its population adequately, yet both ends of the spectrum are left with strikingly similar problems.

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