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The rise of obesity in all NMA countries and the persistent undernutrition places a great emphasis on the centrality of food systems and consumption habits as a driver drivers for favorable nutrition outcomes. Yet, the design of sound food systems and efforts to change eating habits must respond to the varying context. Nevertheless, most malnutrition problems relate especially to a low consumption of micronutrients – due to especially a low intake of fruits and vegetablesdifferent contexts. For instance, there are especially important differences in regard to the nutritional situation between rural and urban areas, but also between men, women and children within individual households. For many developing countries, the following is true – in general:

  • People from urban areas with above average incomes tend to eat too much, and become obese. They often eat too much processed food (high in sugar, fat and calories) and too few fruits and vegetables.
  • Self-subsistence farmers in rural areas tend to have too much staple food based diet (rice, maize, root crops) and consume therefore too little other foods that contain essential nutrients (animal products and fruit and vegetables). They often develop micro-nutrient deficiencies (e.g. anaemia) which are not always visible but reduce resistance to diseases. Most affected are pregnant and lactating women and small children.
  • Small children (below 5 years) often do not get the right diet, e.g. they get too much watery foods (porridge, soup), which does not supply them adequately with calories and in regard to different micro nutrients. Consequently, they suffer from different types of malnutrition and their consequences (e.g. reduced brain and body development, reduced resistance to diseases).


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