CMC – An analysis by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has found that Latin America and the Caribbean has the highest cost of a healthy diet compared to other regions.
The FAO said in a statement on Wednesday that it had analyzed how many people can in fact afford a healthy diet, one that offers a diversity of nutrient-rich food, aligned with dietary guidance and found that billions of people in the world cannot afford a healthy diet.
A release from the FAO said that indicators developed by FAO with critical inputs from researchers at Tufts University and the World Bank show, that Latin America and the Caribbean has the highest cost of a healthy diet compared to other regions, at US$3.89 per person per day in 2020, followed by Asia (US$3.72), Africa (US$3.46), Northern America and Europe (US$3.19) and Oceania (US$3.07).
Between 2019 and 2020, Asia witnessed the highest surge in the cost of a healthy diet (4.0 per cent), followed by Oceania (3.6 per cent), Latin America and the Caribbean (3.4 per cent), Northern America and Europe (3.2 per cent) and Africa (2.5 per cent).
“Putting an end to hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition in all its forms (including undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies, overweight and obesity) is about more than securing enough food to survive: What people eat must also be nutritious,” said David Laborde, Director of FAO’s Agrifood Economics Division.
“Yet a key obstacle is the high cost of nutritious foods and the low affordability of healthy diets for vast numbers of people around the world.”
FAO’s Director of Food and Nutrition, Lynnette Neufeld added that tracking the cost and affordability of healthy diets is a step-change towards recognizing the need to nourish and not just feed the world.
“This new methodology also provides us with the starting point to generate locally relevant evidence to guide policy and programmes to make healthy diets affordable for all people, at all times,” she said.
The computing, monitoring and reporting of the global, regional and country level indicators on the cost and affordability of a healthy diet (CoAHD) is now institutionalized and will be regularly updated by FAO, the UN agency said. It said this provides a powerful new benchmark for tracking global progress towards making healthy diets affordable to all.
The indicators rely on an integrated suite of data, computed based on variables including the retail prices of locally available foods and food-based dietary guidelines to, country household income distribution patterns and the formulas required to establish purchasing power parities.
The CoAHD initiative is part of a larger set of activities that will contribute to achieve one of four of FAO’s objectives within its 2022-31 Strategic Framework – Better Nutrition.