Symposium on sustainable food systems in Latin America and the Caribbean
From 5 to 7 September, San Salvador (El Salvador) hosted the “Regional Symposium on Sustainable Food Systems for Healthy Eating“, organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization and the Pan American Health Organization. The forum involved experts, academics, representatives of governments from the area and UN agencies, and international experts. The aim of the symposium was to share public policies and successful experiences to enable food systems that support the health of the population in Latin America and the Caribbean to be created. Before the meeting, national consultations were held in 12 countries in the region to collect the best examples to be presented to the international community.
The Symposium offered the opportunity to consider the challenges and opportunities in shaping sustainable food systems that assure everyone the human right to adequate and healthy food in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Symposium also convened a multisectoral forum to share practical solutions, successful experiences and lessons learned about the process of recreating sustainable, equitable and inclusive systems in the region.
“Access to food is the Achilles heel of food security. It isn’t that there is a lack of food, it is that many people do not have the means to buy it”
Julio Berdegué, Food and Agriculture Organization Regional Representative for Latin America and the Caribbean
Participants in the symposium discussed efforts made to address the many challenges of malnutrition in all its forms and to identify opportunities to tackle them in the coming decades. The discussions covered three thematic areas offering a regional perspective on sustainable, equitable and inclusive food systems that will provide a viable starting point for promoting a healthy, balanced and diversified diet:
• Policies and initiatives that guarantee the availability of varied, healthy foods.
• Policies and initiatives associated with access to and consumption of varied and healthy foods.
• Policies and initiatives that promote the improvement of cross-sectoral governance for sustainable, equitable and inclusive food systems.
Finally, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the Pan American Health Organization called on countries to improve their systems for monitoring and researching the relationship between food systems and malnutrition. This is with the aim of making records more precise to support cost-effective and well-focused investments that provide a real solution to the problem: tackling not just hunger and malnutrition but also overweight and obesity in Latin America and the Caribbean.
— FAO en El Salvador (@FAOElSalvador) September 8, 2017
Malnutrition in Latin America and the Caribbean
There are 34 million undernourished people in Latin America and the Caribbean: 6.1 million children under five are stunted, just under 4 million are overweight and 38.5 per cent are anaemic. Anaemia affects 17 per cent of women of fertile age (15 to 49 years old), while more than 50 per cent of the adult population are overweight and 23 per cent are obese.
In recent years, the region has undergone economic, demographic, technological and cultural changes that have had a profound impact not only on the foods that the population consumes but also on the way in which they are produced, processed, sold, distributed and consumed. This transformation has made Latin America a food superpower and has had a lot of positive effects on the population’s wellbeing. However, these changes have also led to negative effects: overweight and obesity cause almost 3.4 million deaths each year that are related to chronic noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and cancer. These diseases are among the main causes of death in almost all countries in the region.
— FAO Bolivia (@FAOBolivia) September 8, 2017