Malnutrition – the great killer behind the curtain

Malnutrition is a far greater problem than world hunger. Why? Because even if a person gets sufficient quantities of food, they can still be undernourished and thus subject to chronic disease, if the food they consume does not provide the proper amounts of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) to meet their daily nutritional requirements. In other words, being overweight does necessarily mean being well nourished.

According to the UN Hunger report, nearly 870 million people, or one in eight, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2010-2012.  The vast majority of the hungry, 852 million, live in developing countries — around 15 percent of their population — while 16 million people are undernourished in developed countries.

The FAO states that the world is increasingly faced with a double burden of malnutrition, with chronic undernourishment and micronutrient malnutrition co-existing with obesity, overweight and related non-communicable diseases (affecting more than 1.4 billion people worldwide).

Poor nutrition causes nearly half (45%) of deaths in children under five – 3.1 million children each year. However, with much of the imagery related to these reports showing emaciated children in Africa and India, most people fail to realise that Obesity is another form of this same chronic problem.

According to the United Nations Standing Committee on Nutrition (SCN) malnutrition is the largest single contributor to worldwide disease.


In my travels to more than 65 countries I have seen a consistent pattern of poor eating habits and thus malnourishment, fueled by an all-too-convenient access to American fast food chains like McDonalds, Burger King and KFC. With heavy subsidization by the local government these junk food behemoths are able to entice, otherwise, well-meaning consumers to throw out common sense and choose foods that may satisfying their hunger and save them money in the short-term, but cost them thousands of dollars in medical bills and personal inconvenience in the long-term. A common complaint of many of these consumers is that they feel they are being punished to eat healthy because more nutritious meals are too expensive.

But another factor here is the powerful marketing of these corporate giants to mold public opinion and mislead people to think that their “happy meals” are nutritious or that eating healthy takes too much time or is not practical in a fast paced world. It is not.

When I visited South America and especially Colombia I noticed this profoundly. Colombia, situated at the top of South America has access to some of the most nutritious fruits and vegetables in the world. Add to this an extensive range of nuts, seeds and super foods such as quinoa, maca, cocao and millet and you have a country with all the ingredients for proper nutrition. And yet, millions of people continue to visit McDonalds and other fast food places out of habit and the sheer convenience they afford. You could put this down to expert programming of the masses, or that the mothers of the world have surrendered the control of their dinner tables to these slick junk food companies. Whatever it is, a majority of the people have no idea how much they are being misled and it is about time all the mothers wake up!

The three greatest killers of the modern world are:

  1. Cardiovascular disease
  2. Cancer
  3. Diabetes

All are directly related to our food choices.

According to WHO (UN World Health Organization) more than 30 million people a year die as a result of those three diseases. That means just changing our food choices alone can potentially save 30 million lives a year!

Food for Life Solution

What we aim to do at Food for Life Global is threefold:

  1. To help people to value the importance of proper food choices and thus improve their nutritional intake;
  2. To show people the benefits of a plant-based diet;
  3. To show people that we are all equal and that the sharing of pure food is the most effective way to create unity, prosperity and peace in the world.

Food for Life Global therefore aims to educate through public forums as well as to demonstrate our ideals through massive healthy food distribution programs.

To date, our volunteers have served over 2 billion nutritious meals and are currently serving at a rate of up to 3 nutritious plant-based million meals daily. We feel confident that as we grow, the world will become a happier and healthier place. If you think so too, please support our efforts today!

Picture of Paul Turner

Paul Turner

Paul Turner co-founded Food for Life Global in 1995. He is a former monk, a veteran of the World Bank, entrepreneur, holistic life coach, vegan chef, and author of 6 books, including, FOOD YOGA, 7 maxims for soul happiness.

MR. Turner has traveled to 72 countries over the last 35 years helping to establish Food for Life projects, train volunteers, and document their success.

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