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FAO warns: Obesity will be the next big challenge facing Africa

The director of nutrition at the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Anna Lartey warns that while addressing problems with undernutrition has long been the main focus of African countries and aid organisations, the increasing challenges related to overweight and obesity are not being given sufficient attention.

She argues that there is a real need to tackle the double problems of undernutrition and overweight simultaneously and that a food system approach is needed to tackle malnutrition in all its forms.

Researchers have warned in a recent study that the increasing problem of obesity is linked to an increase in sugary drink consumption and discussions have now started on whether countries should implement taxes on sugary drinks and other unhealthy foods. Lartey argues that a tax could be considered but its effects may be limited by the fact that wealthier populations would still be able to afford unhealthy products.

Read the full article discussing the challenge with obesity in Africa here. For more on this topic see the following Research Library categories:  food and agriculture policy, food taxes, fat tax, obesity/overweightgovernance and policy and resources with a regional focus on Africa.

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The 54 countries in Africa – from the dry northern African nations, through those in deserts and rainforests, all the way to the temperate parts of South Africa – are hugely varied in their ethnic, cultural, climatic, geographic, and economic aspects. The continent’s population of over a billion inhabitants, with a median age of 19.7 years, is the youngest in the world. Due to both its localised epidemics of hunger and its huge untapped agricultural potential, Sub-Saharan Africa specifically is a key focus area for many NGOs and development agencies interested in food production and security.

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