First 1,000 days of child’s life are the most important

At last year’s World Economic Forum, young children’s health was a part of the agenda, because the first 1000 days are most important to children’s development and our collective economic success. This article, part of the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting, explains why.

What’s the most important thing a child has? It’s their brain. And yet, we’re not caring for children’s brains the way we care for their bodies. This should concern all of us – including business leaders.

The first 1,000 days of life – from conception to age three – open a critical and singular window of opportunity. During this period, children’s brains can form 1,000 neural connections every second. A three-year-old’s brain is twice as active as that of an adult and the connections their brain makes are the building blocks of their future.

France to force big supermarkets to give unsold food to charities

Legislation barring stores from spoiling and throwing away food is aimed at tackling epidemic of waste alongside food poverty

French supermarkets will be banned from throwing away or destroying unsold food and must instead donate it to charities or for animal feed, under a law set to crack down on food waste.

The French national assembly voted unanimously to pass the legislation as France battles an epidemic of wasted food that has highlighted the divide between giant food firms and people who are struggling to eat.
World leaders urged to tackle food waste to save billions and cut emissions
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As MPs united in a rare cross-party consensus, the centre-right deputy Yves Jégo told parliament: “There’s an absolute urgency – charities are desperate for food. The most moving part of this law is that it opens us up to others who are suffering.”

Supermarkets will be barred from deliberately spoiling unsold food so it cannot be eaten. Those with a footprint of 4,305 sq ft (400 sq m) or more will have to sign contracts with charities by July next year or face penalties including fines of up to €75,000 (£53,000) or two years in jail.

“It’s scandalous to see bleach being poured into supermarket dustbins along with edible foods,” said the Socialist deputy Guillaume Garot, a former food minister who proposed the bill.

One Third of Food Lost, Wasted – Enough to Feed All Hungry People

Believe it or not, the way to eradicate hunger from the face of the Earth is as feasible as it is handy. In fact, the current loss and waste of one-third of all food produced for human consumption would be just enough to feed the nearly one billion people who go to bed hungry every single night.

Here, the figures are self-explanatory: as much as 1.3 billion tons per year of food is lost or wasted throughout the supply chain, from initial agricultural production down to final household consumption, according to the UN.

Moreover, it is not just about losing or wasting food—it also implies a waste of resources used in production such as land, water, energy and inputs, increasing the greenhouse gas emissions.

“Up to one third of all food is spoiled or squandered before it is consumed by people. It is an excess in an age where almost a billion people go hungry,” adds the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The world is off track to end hunger, so what’s the solution?

The world is off track to meet its own deadline for ending hunger. For the first time in many years, the estimated number of undernourished people has actually gone up rather than down. It now stands at slightly more than 800 million undernourished people worldwide, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization. One of the internationally agreed upon Sustainable Development Goals is to get hunger to zero by 2030, so there is a long way to go. Other indicators like stunting in children under five years of age do show modest decline, but on the current course it would still take 42 years to achieve zero stunting. Clearly, something needs to be done to accelerate the rate of change.

Hunger remains a universal problem.

Can We End World Hunger by 2030?

The world is off track to meet its own goal of ending hunger by 2030, and it’s not clear if anyone in power will ever be held accountable for the shortfall. Just over two years ago, the international community committed to ending hunger as the second of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Since then, there have been a few individual successes and reforms, but there is little overall evidence that developed and developing country governments are mobilizing to make the end of hunger a reality. If anything, the goal is slipping further from view.

This note, part of the Ending Rural Hunger project at the Brookings Institution, provides a brief overview of major developments in food and nutrition security (FNS) over the last year. It is accompanied by the release of the revised and updated Ending Rural Hunger database, available at, which allows users to dig into the details on the state of rural hunger in 152 developing countries and the international and domestic actions of 29 developed countries in support of global FNS.

The takeaway from this analysis is that without stronger accountability systems, we are unlikely to see the policy improvements and increased investments that will be needed to achieve SDG2.

Poor diet is a factor in one in five deaths, global disease study reveals

Malnutrition is due to eating poorly; eating the wrong amounts and kinds of foods – either overeating, and under-eating.

A recent comprehensive study done by the the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, compiled data from every country in the world. Poor diet is a factor in one in five deaths around the world, according to this study.

Millions of people are eating the wrong sorts of food for good health. Eating a diet that is low in whole grains, fruit, nuts and seeds and fish oils and high in salt raises the risk of an early death, according to the huge and ongoing study Global Burden of Disease.

The study, based at the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, compiles data from every country in the world and makes informed estimates where there are gaps. Five papers on life expectancy and the causes and risk factors of death and ill health have been published by the Lancet medical journal.

In pictures: The first 1,000 days of hunger

BBC has posted an educational photographic essay on the first 1000 days of hunger. Across Ghana, the irreversible effects of child malnutrition can be seen among thousands of children affected during their critical first 1,000 days of life. This is the time in a child’s life that will determine their health as adults, their ability to learn in school and to perform in future jobs.
A group of photographers and researchers organized by UBELONG went to Ghana to uncover the complex stories behind this problem. See:

Meals on Wheels Client Asks Congress to #SaveLunch For Millions of At-Risk Seniors

With Congress in the midst of its annual appropriations debate, Meals on Wheels America launched a video vignette featuring Carol – a real Meals on Wheels client living in Whitehall Township, PA – in an effort to influence the important funding decisions that put millions of seniors at risk. Carol joins the nationwide Meals on Wheels network in making an appeal to Congress to #SaveLunch by protecting and increasing the critical federal funding sources upon which 8 out of 10 local Meals on Wheels programs rely. Assuring adequate federal funding for social programs like Meals on Wheels is not only vital to the health and well-being of at-risk seniors, but it is essential to the health and vibrancy of our nation,” said Ellie Hollander, President and CEO of Meals on Wheels America. “With community-based Meals on Wheels programs serving 23 million fewer meals today than in 2005, we are already losing ground in keeping pace with an exponentially increasing need. The time to act to save lives and money is now.”
Click on the news article video to hear Carol’s story.

Unmasking hidden hunger in the developed world

The word hunger generally calls to mind starving children in developing countries. Unfortunately, this type of hunger is still very much a reality. However, malnutrition is much more complex. Many children who consume enough food, and even obese and overweight children, may be malnourished because they consume the wrong kind of foods—those that lack the essential vitamins and minerals required for growth and development. This “hidden hunger” can lead to irrevocable damage to the child and adversely affect communities and the economies of entire nations.

A G-20 Challenge: How Do We Get More Food from Less Water?

Agriculture strains the world’s supply of fresh water. The question is how do we feed a hungry planet without tapping out the water supply? The link below describes the topic of water that will be brought up at the upcoming G-20 meeting in Germany covering optimal country policies and water preservation strategies for agriculture and for human use.