Two centuries ago, Thomas Malthus famously predicted a Hobbesian world of runaway population growth outstripping food supplies, with mass starvation as the ultimate sanction for human profligacy. That he has so far been proven wrong is surely humanity’s most wondrous achievement. Today, over 7 billion of us are alive and fed. Yes, far too many are still not enjoying three square meals a day. But few are threatened with Malthus’ horrible death – even as about 870 million are still chronically food insecure.
But the way many of our bellies get filled is far from ideal. The UN reckons about 2 billion people are missing essential micronutrients such as minerals and vitamins. The abundant availability of cheap, nutrient-poor carbohydrates and our age-old craving for sugars and fats are leading to an explosion of metabolic diseases. The World Health Organization estimates that 347 million people suffer from diabetes, over 500 million are obese, and one in three adults has high blood pressure. And this does not just strike the rich world anymore. “In some African countries, as much as half the adult population has high blood pressure,” Margaret Chan, the WHO’s Director-General, said last year. Both under- and malnutrition increasingly affect the same countries. Take India. It has one-third of the world’s under-nourished children – while 10% of its adult population has raised blood glucose levels.Read more. . .