As an United Nations international meeting on ways to improve diets and ensure sustainable food systems kicked off in Rome, Italy today, participants were told that one in three people on the planet suffers some form of malnutrition, impacting public health and economic development at an estimated cost of $3.5 trillion per year. No country is immune from malnutrition – either undernutrition or overweight and obesity – whose “human, social, environmental and economic costs are overwhelming,” said the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), José Graziano da Silva, during his opening remarks at the International Symposium on Sustainable Food Systems for Healthy Diets and Improved Nutrition.“Nutrition must be considered a public issue, a State responsibility,” he said, adding that “consumers must be empowered to choose healthy food and diets” through nutrition-sensitive social protection, nutrition education, and effective and accurate labelling and advertising. According to a press release, the two-day event, co-organized by FAO and the World Health Organization (WHO), examines country-level challenges and successes to shed light on effective approaches to reshaping food production, processing, marketing and retail systems to better tackle the problem of malnutrition, which blights the lives of billions of individuals and can trap generations in a vicious cycle of poverty and malnutrition.

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