The state of food security in the world

Transforming food systems for affordable healthy diets

Two children watering cabbages in a garden
UNICEF Eswatini/2012


The ways in which moderately food insecure people modify their diets vary according to the income level of the country. In two
lower-middle-income countries studied (Kenya and Sudan), there is a marked decrease in consumption of most food groups, and an increase in the share of staples in the diet. In two upper-middle-income countries examined (Mexico and Samoa), people who are moderately food insecure consume more foods that are typically cheaper on a per-calorie basis (cereals, roots, tubers and plantains), and consume lesser amounts of expensive foods (meat and dairy), compared with those who are food secure. Mexico in particular shows a decrease in fruit and dairy consumption as the severity of food insecurity increases.

In summary, with ten years to go until 2030, the world is off track to achieve the SDG targets for hunger and malnutrition. After decades of long decline, the number of people suffering from hunger has been slowly increasing since 2014. Beyond hunger, a growing number of people have been forced to compromise on the quality and/or quantity of the food they consume, as reflected in the increase in moderate or severe food insecurity since 2014. Projections for 2030, even without considering the potential impact of COVID-19, serve as a warning that the current level of effort is not enough to reach Zero Hunger ten years from now.

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