Sri Lanka facing a triple burden of malnutrition

A combination of unhealthy diets and sedentary lifestyles have sent overweight and obesity rates soaring in Sri Lanka and around the world.

Sri Lanka is facing a triple burden of malnutrition, with stagnant rates of undernutrition combined with growing overweight/obesity, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) of the United Nations said today.

FAO and WFP said that in the recent years, while the prevalence of undernutrition such as wasting and stunting in young children has remained more or less the same, prevalence of overweight and obesity in school children and adults have increased.

Speaking at the World Food Day 2019 commemoration event in Colombo today, Xuebing Sun the FAO Representative for Sri Lanka and the Maldives said, “The public appetite for a better food system is strong. That is clear from consumers’ growing interest in where their food is coming from and how it is produced. That demand can catalyse positive results in the nutrition arena from urging the government to make nutritious foods available, accessible and affordable, and encouraging the private sector to produce healthier food.”

Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, K.D.S. Ruwanchandra recognized the need to reorient agricultural priorities to focus more on nutritional quality and diversity, to meet the nutritional needs of a growing population.

WFP Deputy Country Head for Sri Lanka, Andrea Berardo also spoke at the event, weighing in on the focus on youth this year, “As WFP celebrates 50 years in Sri Lanka, we must look to the future. Thus it is vitally important to engage the young generation to make informed decisions about their diet and lifestyle, as the decisions of today affect the future of tomorrow. We also believe that youth can become change-makers and advocates for healthy diets, thus helping to create a healthy Sri Lanka where everyone has access to safe and nutritious food.”

The World Food Day 2019 national event saw the participation of over 100 school students and teachers, representatives from the Government of Sri Lanka, key stakeholders including fellow UN agencies, private sector and development organizations.

. Former Sri Lanka cricketer and ICC Match Referee Roshan Mahanama shared his personal insights on the benefits of healthy eating for an active and productive life. The messages shared at this year’s event reflected that the importance of making healthy, informed food choices is about not only addressing hunger, but also nourishing people while nurturing the planet

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