2020 Food policy

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, par. 33 and par. 34 (2020)

Text of the recommendation

33. Meanwhile, for the first time in history, there are more obese than undernourished people in the world, with obesity rates having nearly tripled since 1975.31 Overweight adults are now increasing at 13.2 per cent per annum, compared to 11.7 per cent in 2012, leading to 4 million deaths globally. More than 40 million children worldwide are overweight, with Africa and Asia the most burdened.32 Those numbers have implications for individual health outcomes and the greater health-care landscape: the economic impact of obesity is estimated at $2 trillion, or 2.8 per cent of the world’s GDP – roughly equivalent to the costs of armed conflict.

34. These alarming rates of obesity and diet-related diseases are associated with the “supermarketization” of food systems, especially in Africa. Studies have found that middleclass Africans are more likely to purchase highly processed foods rather than fresh foods. These trends are also present in Latin America, where supermarketization and fast food chain diffusion have contributed to a rise in malnutrition and in particular obesity. The food industry targets children, marketing highly processed, low-nutrient foods across multiple media, especially in urban areas. If current trends continue, 70 million infants and young children will be overweight or obese by 2025.


Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food: Critical perspective on food systems, food crises and the future of the right to food, A/HRC/43/44, (2020). Par.

33, 34. Available at: https://undocs.org/A/HRC/43/44