Reliable access to affordable, nutritious food is something many of us take for granted. But for more than two decades, the dark reality of food insecurity has spread to every corner of the world. The onset of the global pandemic further exacerbated food insecurity, hitting a five-year high, according to an annual report by the Global Network Against Food Crises (GNAFC). The report explains that at least 155 million people experienced acute food insecurity across 55 countries in 2020, an increase of around 20 million people from the previous year.
Wealthier countries are also feeling the impact of food insecurity. Feeding America reported that in the United States, 60 million people turned to food banks, food pantries, and other private food assistance programs in 2020. The increased demand proved to be too much for many organizations, which worked around the clock just to keep up with their beneficiaries. But providing enough food for those who need it is just one part of the equation. Making sure minimum nutritional requirements are met is even more important. According to a global research study we commissioned in March 2021, many are unaware of those requirements, which include a balanced diet of fruits, grains, protein, vegetables and dairy and limiting food and beverages high in added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium.
Ending hunger is one of the world’s most pressing needs and has been prioritized within the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Not only does this issue continue to worsen, but it impacts other factors like physical and mental development, including a child’s ability to concentrate in school, which often impacts upward economic mobility. With more opportunity for education, grows the potential for equitable nutrition solutions.
Education is the first step in enabling change, access, and empowerment. Sustainable transformation begins through education and resources that help people adopt a healthy, active lifestyle. Those resources must be accompanied by affordable nutrition in order for communities to thrive. As we continue to move forward with the commitments outlined in our global responsibility report, we are already looking into what more we can do to make this transformation a reality.
As a former pediatrician and public health official, I have witnessed firsthand the profound impact that reliable access to good nutrition can have on both individual and community health.
Eradicating hunger and malnutrition involves more than just putting food in people's mouths – we must also educate people on what good, balanced nutrition looks like and empower them to make informed decisions to achieve a healthy life. By focusing on education and providing communities new ways to access nutrition, those living in food deserts (low-income areas with limited access to fresh produce or other food) will be in a better position to drive change in their communities. We are seeing this work being done around the world through public and private partnerships. And since 2019, Herbalife Nutrition and the Herbalife Nutrition Foundation* have worked with leading non-profit organizations which support more than 164 million people in over 80 countries through our global Nutrition for Zero Hunger initiative to address global hunger issues, including World Food Program USA, Feed the Children and Asociación Mexicana de Bancos de Alimentos (BAMX), among others.
As we enter our fifth decade as a company, we are focused on nourishing people while taking care of our planet. Those goals lead to a healthier world.
Given the enormity of the global issues we are talking about, no single entity will successfully solve them. Governments, non-governmental organizations, and businesses must work together to make a meaningful impact. Tangible, measurable results require hard work, perseverance, and an unwavering commitment to change.
Nutrition education and sustainable business practices are imperative to ensure global health and success. Addressing these priorities can create a more level-playing field and enable us to better serve our communities.
*The Herbalife Nutrition Foundation is a public charity, not a subsidiary or affiliate of Herbalife Nutrition. HNF chooses to join Herbalife Nutrition in some charitable initiatives. HNF has donated approximately $1.4M in financial aid, and Herbalife Nutrition has donated approximately $2.1M in financial aid and in-kind gifts, to non-profit partners as a part of Nutrition for Zero Hunger.
This article series is sponsored by Herbalife Nutrition and produced by the TriplePundit editorial team.
Image credits: Bonnie Kittle and Luisa Brimble via Unsplash
John Agwunobi is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Herbalife Nutrition and former Assistant Secretary for Health for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.