The Dichotomy of Food Addiction and Hunger

With World Food Day less than a week away—on October 16—I’ve been pondering some interesting statistics.

Food is an issue both in the United States and in developing countries. Consider the following.

There are 70 million food-addicted adults in the United States, according to the food and health reporting project of the University of California at Berkeley School of Journalism. Yet, World Food Program (WFP) reports that 870 million people in the world do not have enough to eat, and that hunger kills more people every year than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.

An estimated 400,000 adult deaths each year in the United States are associated withobesity (Thompson, J. Kevin. Handbook of Eating Disorders and Obesity. John Wiley & Sons, 2004). Yet, WFP says that one out of six children—roughly 100 million—in developing countries is underweight, and that poor nutrition causes nearly half (45 percent) of deaths in children under age 5, equaling 3.1 million children each year.

Hunger in Developing Countries

  • The vast majority of hungry people (98 percent) live in developing countries, where almost 15 percent of the population is undernourished.
  • Asia and the Pacific have the largest share of the world’s hungry people (some 563 million), but the trend is downward.
  • One in four of the world’s children are stunted. In developing countries, the proportion can rise to one in three. 80 percent of the world’s stunted children live in just 20 countries.
  • 66 million primary school-age children attend classes hungry across the developing world, with 23 million in Africa alone.

In July, the Thompson Reuters Foundation report that the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) credited women’s education for a 43 percent reduction in hunger from 1970 to 1995. Women living longer led to an additional 12 percent decline in hunger levels.

An Efficient Model For Fighting Hunger

Food for the Hungry (FH) is one of the organizations helping in the fight against hunger through many means, including educating women and girls. And helping fathers to understand the importance of educating women and girls.

For example, let’s visit Mozambique, the fifteenth poorest country in the world, where families struggle to survive through subsistence farming and hunting. FH started care groups in Mozambique, and the results were so astounding that the Center for High Impact Philanthropy at University of Pennsylvania endorsed the care group model. Dr. Henry Perry, Senior Associate at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health, said, “This is one of the world’s best examples so far of what can be achieved at low cost to improve the health of children in high-mortality, low-resource settings.”

You can watch a video below that shows why.

Resolving the Dichotomy?

So here’s my plan. The next time I’m tempted to buy something sugary or fatty (the source of most food addictions), I’ll instead put the equivalent of the item’s cost into a jar. At the end of the month, I’ll send the money I saved to FH. That’s a real win-win. I win by kicking the sugar and fat habit. Vulnerable children win when I contribute to FH.

Want to join me? You can offer your donation at FH to help with our programs aimed at ending hunger, and you can use the comments section below to provide additional ideas for solving the dichotomy.

About Karen Randau

A native of the southwestern U.S., Karen uses her blog posts to put into action her passion for helping people be all that God intended them to be. She is able to do this through her role in the Food for the Hungry communications department of the Global Service Center in Phoenix in two ways. First, she helps people understand the plight faced by impoverished people in developing nations. Second, she brings light to the successful ways Food for the Hungry is helping people.

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