Guyana and the rest of the Caribbean region have made immense progress in reducing absolute hunger; however, they are now being faced with another dangerous situation: obesity.
This is according to Country Representative of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), Dr Gillian Smith.
“Data is suggesting that over 40 per cent of adults in Guyana are considered overweight or obese and this is a trend that is increasing and significantly more women are found to be obese than men,” Dr Smith said.
She was at the time addressing a gathering to commemorate World Food Day at La Bonne Intention (LBI), East Coast Demerara.
“Not only is this robbing us of our productive years, it is costing us significant amounts of our public health resources,” the FAO Country Rep noted.
She further explained that a 2011 cost of illness assessment, done by the Public Health Ministry in collaboration with the PAHO/WHO, estimated that the direct and indirect cost of treating non-communicable disease in Guyana was over 10 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This, she notes, threatens to erode the human capital.
“Most of us have been lucky enough to live in a country, community, family where good food security is the case. I know from time to time many of us have struggled with some aspect of food security…despite all of that, we are the lucky ones. Every day, every single night, more than 820 million people suffer from hunger.
“Mothers put their children to bed knowing that they have not fed them what they need, and not having a single idea of how they are going to feed them tomorrow morning,” she said.
World Food Day is observed annually on October 16. The day marks the anniversary of the formation of the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation.