Diversifying diets crucial to global health

1 JANUARY 2003

A new book co-edited by CSU Adjunct Associate Professor Danny Hunter could help address some of the current problems of undernutrition in many parts of the developing world, as well as promoting healthier diets in developed countries where obesity is a problem.

A new book co-edited by Charles Sturt University (CSU) Adjunct Associate Professor Danny Hunter could help address some of the current problems of undernutrition in many parts of the developing world, as well as promoting healthier diets in developed countries where obesity is a problem.
 
Diversifying Food and Diets is the fifth book in the ‘Issues in Agricultural Biodiversity’ series from Biodiversity International, where Professor Hunter is the global project coordinator of a project aimed at promoting biodiversity for improved food and nutrition.
 
The book examines the importance of agricultural biodiversity for food and nutritional security, as a safeguard against hunger, a source of nutrients for improved dietary diversity and quality, and strengthening local food systems and environmental sustainability.
 
It uses examples and case studies from around the globe to explore strategies for improving nutrition and diets, and identifies gaps in current knowledge that need to be addressed to better promote agricultural biodiversity around the globe.
 
Professor Hunter said while the book aimed to highlight some of the available options for improving the use of agricultural biodiversity, there was no silver bullet for the serious challenges facing the global population in the production, distribution and healthy consumption of food.
 
The figures are confronting; 925 million people undernourished; 195 million children under the age of five stunted from malnutrition; more than a billion people overweight and obese in both the developing and developed world.
 
“It’s a question not only of the quantities of food people are eating but also the quality of that food,” he said.
 
“People need to consider ways of diversifying and improving their diets, which really does require a major transformation of the global food system and this will become an even greater challenge with the global population expected to reach around nine billion by 2050.”
 
That sort of transformation will have implications for primary producers, both large and small scale.
 
“In Australia, as elsewhere, it is very likely that climate change will also influence the future food basket,” Professor Hunter said.
 
“How we adapt to that will be important not just to the economic health of the nation but also to the physical health of the population.”
 
The book will be officially launched at the forthcoming meeting of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture at the headquarters of the  Food and Agricultural Organisation in Rome  in April.

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