Going beyond hunger: Linking food supplies to global malnutrition

Coghlan, Christopher M. and Bhagwat, Shonil A. (2019). Going beyond hunger: Linking food supplies to global malnutrition. Norsk Geografisk Tidsskrift - Norwegian Journal of Geography, 73(2) pp. 128–134.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00291951.2019.1569125


International food security and nutrition studies focus mainly on hunger rather than dietary diversity and the nutritional requirements essential for a productive life. The authors present a method that processes Food and Agriculture Organization food supply data into World Health Organization food groups to determine whether national food supply satisfies nutritional requirements for medium energy intake (i.e. c.2200 calories per day) rather than minimum energy intake. They employ a modified version of the International Food Policy Research Institute’s 2013 Global Hunger Index to group nations for comparison. The results show that most nations have a deficit in at least one of four required food groups. However, many developed Mediterranean nations with low levels of hunger display an adequate supply of all food groups. The positioning represents a successful model for managing the nutrition transition from plant-based diets to the consumption of animal protein, oils, fats, and sugars and other carbohydrates. Additionally, the results suggest that health risks associated with overweight and obesity may increase with societal development. Accordingly, the authors conclude that information on medium energy requirements should be combined with complementary socio-economic analysis to inform food and nutrition research and policy.

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