Freedom from hunger is described as a human right. More specifically it was agreed, “The right to food is a human right inherent in all people, to have regular permanent and unrestricted access, either directly or by means of financial purchases, to have quantitatively and qualitatively adequate and sufficient food corresponding to the cultural traditions of people to which the consumer belongs, is one that ensures a physical and mental, individual and collective fulfilling and dignified life free of fear”. The signatory parties to this agreement concluded that the right to adequate food is linked to the inherent dignity of the human person. Furthermore, the right to adequate food is realized with every man, woman and child, alone or in community with others, having physical access at all times to adequate food or means for its procurement (Holtz, 2012).
In addition, a human rights framework was addressed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the United Nations in 1948. According to this document, to fulfill the right to food is to not interfere with one’s ability to acquire food. To protect the right to food is to make sure that others do not interfere with the right to food. To fulfill the right to food, it is necessary to facilitate social and economic environments that foster human development and to provide food to people in an emergency or in circumstances when they are unable to provide for food by themselves (Holtz, 2012).
Today, not only are there problems from lack of quantity and quality of food to satisfy the dietary needs of individuals—that is, food that is both free from adverse substances and acceptable—but there are also worldwide issues with overnutrition (obesity). Overweight or obesity are prevalent global problems and increasing numbers from emerging or transition economy nations are now facing health challenges related to these issues similar to the problems encountered by the developed world. Overweight and obesity in both developed and developing nations are creating chronic health problems and costing these countries’ economies hundreds of millions of dollars. This is an even more extreme problem among individuals migrating from global areas where food is not available to developed countries where overeating is easy.
On the other side of this equation, according to Holtz (2012), WHO estimates that malnutrition is a contributing factor in at least 49% of the world’s total death burden. Half of all malnourished children and a large proportion of malnourished adult women reside in Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan, and in many other countries in Africa and middle Asia.
WHO’s Nutrition for Health Development Department established major goals. They include the elimination of the following:
- Famine and related deaths
- Starvation and nutritional deficiency diseases caused by natural and human-made disasters
- Iodine and vitamin A deficiency
- Starvation and widespread hunger
- Undernutrition, especially in women, children, and the aged
- Micronutrient deficiencies, such as iron deficiency
- Diet-related communicable and noncommunicable diseases
- Barriers to breastfeeding
- Poor sanitation, hygiene, and unclean drinking water
Holtz, C. (2012). Global Health Care (2nd Edition). Jones & Bartlett Learning. https://bookshelf.vitalsource.com/books/9781284035308