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Food for thought

Approximately 870 million people in the world do not eat enough to be healthy. That means that one in every eight people on Earth goes to bed hungry each night.
Hunger is number one on the list of the world’s top 10 health risks. It kills more people every year than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. 
A third of all deaths in children under the age of five in developing countries are linked to undernutrition. It costs just US $0.25 per day to provide a child with all of the vitamins and nutrients he or she needs to grow up healthy.
By 2050, climate change and erratic weather patterns will have pushed another 24 million children into hunger. Almost half of these children will live in sub-Saharan Africa.

Hunger is solvable

Fact of the day

One hundred and ninety million – that’s more than the populations of Germany, France and Poland combined - is also the number of children affected by vitamin A deficiency around the world. India represents 37 percent of victims, including roughly 80 million children.

An insufficient intake of this vital nutrient – found in foods like liver, carrots and kale – can be fatal and causes blindness in 250,000 to 500,000 children every year.

 Solving the problem of hunger does not necessarily tackle the question of nutrition. For instance, rice can represent up to 70 percent of caloric intake in many Asian countries, while cassava – rich in calories but also poor in nutrients – is the main food source for many Africans.

Less poor? But more hungry!

Indian government officials have argued against many sceptics that they have reduced poverty yet two thirds of the country's population is eating less than what is required.

According to the National Institute of Nutrition, an average Indian male of age 18-29 years and weighing 60kg needs 2,320Kcal per day if he does only sedentary work. The Planning Commission had adopted 2,400 Kcal (rural) and 2,100 Kcal (urban) as the minimum daily requirement norm.

There has been an actual declined from 2,153Kcal per person per day in the period 1993-94 to 2020Kcal in 2009-10 in rural areas and from 2,071 to 1,946 Kcal in urban areas according to the report of the National Sample Survey Organisation.

According to the NSSO report, protein consumption too has fallen from 60.2g to 55g per person per day in rural areas and from 57.2g to 53.5g in the urban areas between 1993-94 and 2009-10.

Average calorie intake among the poorest tenth of the population is just 1,619 Kcal in rural areas and 1,584Kca…

The right to life

In the words of Nobel laureate and Dr Amartya Sen:
"Famines are very easy to publicise, people dying of hunger is one thing. But people being underweight, stunted, their lifestyle, their probability of survival being diminished, all that is not so visible..."

A survey conducted by the Naandi Foundation in India found that 42% of children under five are underweight and 59 per cent have stunted growth.

When asked why they did not give their children more non-cereal foods, 93.7 per cent mothers said they did not do so because non-cereal foods were expensive. Fifty per cent of Indian women are anaemic.

836 million people live under less than Rs20 (38 US cents) a day.

Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by all United Nations member states in 1948, lists the right to food among a state's obligations. Article 21 of the Indian constitution, which provides a fundamental right to life and personal liberty, has been repeatedly interpreted by the Indian Supr…

old and starving

Almost twice as many pensioners in the Lothians are admitted to hospital with malnutrition than anywhere else in Scotland, figures have shown. Latest figures show six malnourished people over the age of 65 are now being treated every week, a rise of around a dozen on last year. A mixture of care cutbacks and the increasing number of elderly residents in the area have been suggested for the cases.

Experts said the majority of victims would be elderly people who lived alone and were "under the radar" as far as local authority support services were concerned.

Phyllis Herriot, acting secretary of the Scottish Pensioners' Forum, said: "This is a very sad figure, and quite awful for those involved. It's horrible to think that this can happen in this day and age. There have been a lot of cutbacks, not just in Edinburgh but across the board. Sheltered Housing complexes are losing their wardens, home-help visits that used to be an hour are now cut to half an hour, and thos…

Malnutrition in the UK

A quarter of all adults admitted to hospital and care homes in the UK are at risk of malnutrition, a major survey has found.

The survey found that it was not just older patients who were at risk of malnutrition.
Patients under the age of 30 had a 27% risk of malnutrition, compared with a 34% for those over 80. Malnourished people stay in hospital longer, succumb to infection more often and visit their GP more frequently. They also require longer-term care and more intensive nursing care.

Professor Marinos Elia said: "This finding establishes - if there was any doubt - that malnutrition is a major public health issue in the community that must be addressed both at source and when individuals are admitted into care."

Malnourished old folk

A major survey is to try to establish how many people are malnourished when they enter hospitals and care homes. The three-day investigation by nutrition charity Bapen - assessing more than 500 institutions across the UK .

Based on studies carried out 10 years ago, an estimated 30% of patients in hospitals and care homes are clinically malnourished - a total of 3m people.

Charities such as Age Concern complain malnutrition remains prevalent .

As many as 10% of people aged over 65 are malnourished. That figure rises to 60% when it comes to elderly people in hospital.

"Weight loss and poor nutritional state is not a normal part of aging. And if it's happening we ought to address it and treat it." - The director of nutrition at King's College hospital , Rick Wilson said

Old and Forgotten - and Starving

The Scotsman reports more than 750,000 pensioners risk being left to starve in British hospitals because they are not properly fed . Age Concern said elderly patients were often abandoned with nothing to eat or given the wrong kind of food. It claimed some patients were too weak to feed themselves and in other cases food was out of their reach .

Gordon Lishman, Age Concern director-general, said: "The reality for many older patients is that they are at risk of malnutrition while they are in hospital...The prevalence of malnutrition in older patients is a disgrace. Being denied basic care should not be something which is overlooked on any ward. It puts health at risk and means longer stays in hospital."

Pauline Ford at the Royal College of Nursing said: "It's unacceptable if elderly patients are not getting the help they need to eat and drink."

The Scotsman previously reported death rates from malnutrition in Scotland continue to rise, with 105 death certificates…