Hunger Facts: Causes, Effects, Solutions

  • This year nearly 9 million children younger than 5 will die needlessly, more than half from hunger-related causes.
  • Few of these deaths are related to outright starvation, but rather to common illnesses (like diarrhea, malaria and measles) that move in on vulnerable children whose bodies have been weakened by hunger.
  • Freedom from Hunger concentrates its services on the world’s poorest nations where an overwhelming 32% are moderately to severely stunted — seriously below normal height for one’s age.
  • In the developing world, more than 1.4 billion people currently live below the international poverty line, earning less than $1.25 per day.
  • Among this group of poor people, many have problems obtaining adequate, nutritious food for themselves and their families. As a result, 1.02 billion people in the developing world are undernourished. They consume less than the minimum amount of calories essential for sound health and growth.
  • Undernourishment negatively affects people’s health, productivity, sense of hope and overall well-being. A lack of food can stunt growth, slow thinking, sap energy, hinder fetal development and contribute to mental retardation.
  • Economically, the effort of constantly securing food consumes valuable time and energy, allowing poor people less time for work and earning income.
  • Pregnant women, new mothers who breastfeed infants and children are among the most at risk of undernourishment.
  • Click here for detailed information about our methodology and here to access our technical articles, research papers and evaluations..

What Causes Chronic Hunger? 

Chronic hunger affects more than 800 million people in the world and is, in and of itself, a potentially deadly condition. You may be surprised to learn that it has little to do with food shortages. Global supplies of food far outstrip demand.

Far more people die from causes related to chronic hunger than to famine. Chronically hungry people are exceptionally vulnerable when famine strikes. They have fewer resources to protect themselves and their families and are already living on the margin of survival.

There are five things that do contribute to most of the world’s hunger:

Poverty. Poor people do not have the resources — whether land, tools or money–needed to grow or buy food on a consistent basis.

Armed Conflict. War disrupts agricultural production, and governments often spend more on arms than on social programs.

Environmental Overload. Over-consumption by wealthy nations and rapid population growth in poor nations strain natural resources and make it harder for poor people to feed themselves.

Discrimination. Lack of access to education, credit and employment — a recipe for hunger — is often the result of racial, gender or ethnic discrimination.

Lack of Clout. In the final analysis, chronic hunger is caused by powerlessness. People who don’t have power to protect their own interests are hungry. The burden of this condition falls most acutely on children, women and elderly people.

 

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