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                                                                   IN LATIN AMERICA

                                                                AND THE CARIBBEAN

                                                                  CANNOT ACCESS A

                                                                        HEALTHY DIET

                                                                A new United Nations report finds that 22.5 percent of the
                                                              Latin America and the Caribbean population cannot afford a
                                                              healthy diet. In the Caribbean this figure reaches 52 percent; in
                                                              Mesoamerica, 27.8 percent; and in South America, 18.4 percent.
                                                                The Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition in Latin
                                                              America and the Caribbean reports that 131.3 million people in
                                                              the region could not afford a healthy diet in 2020. This represents
                                                              an increase of 8 million compared to 2019 and is due to the
                                                              higher average daily cost of healthy diets in Latin America and
                                                              the Caribbean compared to the rest of the world’s regions – an
                                                              average of $3.89 per person per day compared to the global
                                                              average of $3.54.In the the Caribbean this reaches a value of
                                                              $4.23, followed by South America and Mesoamerica with $3.61
                                                              and $3.47, respectively.
                                                                This problem is related to different socioeconomic and nutritional
                                                              indicators. The report presents a clear relationship between the
                                                              inability to afford a healthy diet and such variables as a country’s
                                                              income level, the incidence of poverty, and the level of inequality.
                                                                The report also reveals that the rise in international food prices
                                                              experienced since 2020,  exacerbated after the start of the
                                                              war in Ukraine, and a regional increase in food inflation above
                                                              the general level, have increased the difficulties for people to
                                                              access a healthy diet.
                                                                The report also includes recommendations based on evidence
                                                              and an analysis of policies already implemented to improve the
                                                              availability and affordability of nutritious foods, focusing on sup-
                                                              porting the most vulnerable people and low-income households
                                                              that spend a more significant proportion of their budget on food.
                                                                The report  is a joint publication of the Food and Agriculture
                                                              Organization of the United Nations (FAO); the International Fund
                                                              for Agricultural Development (IFAD); the Pan American Health
                                                              Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO); the United
                                                              Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations World
                                                              Food Program (WFP).
                                                                “There is no individual policy that can solve this problem inde-
                                                              pendently. National and regional coordination mechanisms need
                                                              to be strengthened to respond to hunger and malnutrition,” said
                                                              Mario Lubetkin, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional
                                                              Representative for Latin America and the Caribbean.
                                                                “To contribute to the affordability of healthy diets, it is necessary
                                                              to create incentives for the diversification of the production of
                                                              nutritious foods aimed mainly at family farming and small-scale
                                                              producers, take measures for the transparency of the prices
                                                              of these foods in markets and trade, and actions such as cash
                                                              transfers and improving school menus,” Lubetkin added.
                                                                Trade and market policies can play a fundamental role in im-
                                                              proving food security and nutrition. Greater transparency and
                                                              efficiency improve inter-regional agri-food trade by replacing
                                                              uncertainty with market predictability and stability.

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