Worldwide, the number of people with insufficient food consumption increased from 8.4% in 2019 to 9.9% in 2020, while in Europe and Central Asia, the regional average remained below 2.5% – where it has been for nearly two decades.
Globally, 2020 was marked by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting disruptions to markets, trade and food supply chains. In Europe and Central Asia, the number of severely food insecure people grew by 7 million in 2020 to 22 million (or about 2.4% of the population), while those experiencing moderate or severe food insecurity (lacking access to safe, nutritious and adequate food) grew by 14 million to 111 million (11.9% of the total population).
“With pandemic policy responses varying greatly according to each country’s level of wealth and political will, national and subregional inequalities in access to food and nutrition are certain to grow,” Rakhmanin said. “This must be dealt with to ensure that the Europe and Central Asia region moves forward in attaining sufficient food and nutrition for all, with a pledge to leave no one behind.”
Progress has been made in reducing various forms of malnutrition, including (in most countries of the region) child stunting, child wasting, and low birthweight.
However, Europe and Central Asia is in a worse position in terms of exclusive breastfeeding, childhood overweight, and adult obesity. The data and trends are especially alarming for adult obesity in all subregions, and the pandemic might further exacerbate the problem.