Lancet report on the dual challenges of obesity and undernutrition


  • Dawn O'Shea
  • Univadis Medical News
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A new approach is needed to help reduce undernutrition and obesity at the same time, as the issues become increasingly connected due to rapid changes in countries’ food systems. This is especially important in low- and middle-income countries, according to a new four-paper report published in The Lancet.

The report says more than a third of such countries had overlapping forms of malnutrition, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, south Asia and east Asia and the Pacific.

“We are facing a new nutrition reality,” says lead author of the report Dr Francesco Branca, Director of the Department of Nutrition for Health and Development, World Health Organization. “We can no longer characterise countries as low-income and undernourished, or high-income and only concerned with obesity. All forms of malnutrition have a common denominator - food systems that fail to provide all people with healthy, safe, affordable, and sustainable diets. Changing this will require action across food systems - from production and processing, through trade and distribution, pricing, marketing, and labelling, to consumption and waste. All relevant policies and investments must be radically re-examined.”

Globally, estimates suggest almost 2.3 billion children and adults are overweight, and more than 150 million children are stunted.