Poverty, obesity, and malnutrition: an international perspective recognizing the paradox

J Am Diet Assoc. 2007 Nov;107(11):1966-72. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2007.08.007.


In the year 2000, multiple global health agencies and stakeholders convened and established eight tenets that, if followed, would make our world a vastly better place. These tenets are called the Millennium Development Goals. Most of these goals are either directly or indirectly related to nutrition. The United Nations has led an evaluation team to monitor and assess the progress toward achieving these goals until 2015. We are midway between when the goals were set and the year 2015. The first goal is to "eradicate extreme poverty and hunger." Our greatest responsibility as nutrition professionals is to understand the ramifications of poverty, chronic hunger, and food insecurity. Food insecurity is complex, and the paradox is that not only can it lead to undernutrition and recurring hunger, but also to overnutrition, which can lead to overweight and obesity. It is estimated that by the year 2015 noncommunicable diseases associated with overnutrition will surpass undernutrition as the leading causes of death in low-income communities. Therefore, we need to take heed of the double burden of malnutrition caused by poverty, hunger, and food insecurity. Informing current practitioners, educators, and policymakers and passing this information on to future generations of nutrition students is of paramount importance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture
  • Comorbidity
  • Conservation of Natural Resources
  • Food Supply / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Hunger*
  • International Cooperation
  • Malnutrition / epidemiology*
  • Malnutrition / etiology
  • Malnutrition / mortality
  • Nutrition Disorders / epidemiology
  • Nutrition Disorders / etiology
  • Nutrition Disorders / mortality
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Obesity / mortality
  • Poverty*
  • United Nations