Hunger in Latin America and Caribbean reaches 15-year high: UN

Hunger levels in the Latin America Caribbean region are the highest they have been in 15 years according to a report released by the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Tuesday.

The FAO reported that the prevalence of hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean reached 9.1 percent in 2020, the highest this percentage recorded in 15 years. Between 2019 and 2020, the prevalence of hunger rose by two percentage points, which the organization noted could be explained by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Countries in the region that experienced the highest rate of undernourishment from 2018 to 2020 were Haiti, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, Bolivia and Ecuador. The prevalence of undernourishment in Haiti far outpaced other countries in the region with nearly 50 percent experiencing hunger.

"The statistics indicate that we are going backwards in the fight against hunger. We have returned to the levels of 15 years ago, and we are losing the battle against all forms of malnutrition. Much remains to be done to ensure a healthy diet for the entire population throughout their lives," the FAO stated.

However, the FAO noted that this trend is not new. Hunger rates have been rising in the region for the past six years, with the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbating pre-existing conditions.

While rates of undernourishment have been increasing, childhood and adult obesity have also been observed to have become more prevalent. One in four adults in the region suffer from obesity and childhood obesity was found to be affecting 7.5 percent of children under the age of five, two percentage points above the world average.