February 4, 2014 – A new index created by OXFAM placed Netherlands in the top spot for the best food around the world because of its relatively lower food prices, lower diabetes levels and better nutritional diversity regardless of the fact that it garnered poor scores on the obesity measure. Almost one in five people, or 19% of the population, has a body mass index of more than 30.
“The Netherlands have created a good market that enables people to get enough to eat. Prices are relatively low and stable and the type of food people are eating is balanced,” said Deborah Hardoon, Senior Researcher at Oxfam.
“They’ve got the fundamentals right and in a way that is better than most other countries all over the world.”
France and Switzerland tied at second place. European countries occupied the entire top 20 of the ranking even though many of the top 12 countries have high levels of obesity. Australia, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Luxembourg tied at 8th place although Australia scored 37 in the obesity index, or 27% of the population, with 9% of the population having diabetes.
CANADA received top ranking for food inflation and affordability, sharing first place with Japan and the United States but ranked in 25th position overall for food quality and health.
While United States had the most affordable food on the planet and received a high ranking for food quality receiving 21st overall spot with Japan, it has extreme levels of obesity and diabetes and therefore ranked 120th place out of a possible 125.
Oxfam’s “Good Enough to Eat” index compared food availability, quantity, quality, affordability and nutritional value in 125 countries to create an overview of the diverse challenges people face in getting food. It also looked at the percentage of underweight children, food diversity and access to clean water, as well as negative health outcomes such as obesity and diabetes. The index looks at four integral food concerns:
- Do people have enough to eat? - measured by levels of undernourishment and underweight children
- Can people afford to eat? - measured by food price levels compared to other goods and services and food price volatility
- Is food of good quality? - measured by diet diversification and access to clean and safe water
- What are the health outcomes of people’s diet? - measured by diabetes and obesity
“Having sufficient healthy and affordable food is not something that much of the world enjoys,” said Raymond C. Offenheiser, President of Oxfam America.
“Across the globe, particularly in developing countries, far too many people are consuming more and more unhealthy food. Paradoxically, more than 800 million people cannot get enough nutritious food to eat. Governments and the food industry are failing to ensure that everyone is able to eat healthfully, despite there being more than enough food to go around.”
- Chad took last spot just behind Ethiopia and Angola. African countries as well as Laos, Bangladesh, Pakistan and India occupied the bottom 30 places in the index.
- Burundi, Yemen, Madagascar and India continue to struggle for food and have the worst rates of malnourishment and underweight children.
- Iceland scored a perfect mark for their quality of food, nutritional diversity and safe water but obesity and diabetes levels lowered their ranking to 13th spot.
- The UK shared 20th spot with Cyprus receiving one of the lowest ratings in Western Europe in regards to the affordability of food.
- The most expensive prices for food were found in Guinea, Gambia, Chad and Iran costing 250% more than other consumer goods. Researchers found that Angola and Zimbabwe suffer from the most volatile food prices.
- Cambodia and Burundi scored higher for having one of the lowest levels of obesity and diabetes in the world while Mexico, Fiji, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia scored poorly due to high rates of obesity and diabetes.
Despite the fact there is enough food to feed every single person on this planet, Oxfam’s GROW campaign is calling for urgent reform as to the way food is produced and distributed around the world.
Oxfam is working to provide long-term solutions that will help people grow enough food to eat as well as make a living. In Chad, Oxfam is helping farmers grow and diversify crops, ensure cattle are stronger and healthier by providing veterinary training, and assist in the building of more food storage, so that people are better prepared to handle the consistent onset of drought conditions. Some of the solutions includes:
ü Investing in small-holder agriculture and infrastructure in developing countries to raise production levels and diversity of crops, and giving farmers access to markets and the means to store food to prevent waste;
ü Reducing global carbon emissions to prevent ever increasing climate change impacts on food production, investing in resilient agriculture production that can adapt to a changing climate, and assisting farmers to adopt better practices and technologies in response to climate change;
ü Scrapping bio-fuels targets which divert food from mouths to fuel tanks;
ü Improving land rights so that vulnerable communities have a reduced risk of land grabs;
ü Taking action to curb the rise in obesity levels, which presents a critical health issue in developing and developed economies; and
ü Increased regulation of food speculation to help prevent high volatility of food prices.
“Poverty and inequality are the real drivers of hunger.”
Raymond C. Offenheiser,
President of Oxfam America
“Poverty and inequality are the real drivers of hunger,” said Offenheiser.
“That is why Oxfam’s GROW campaign is pushing governments and the food industry for more investment in small-holder agriculture and better infrastructure to boost crop production, prevent waste and improve access to markets.”
The campaign engages supporters to seek an end to bio-fuels mandates, which are diverting food from hungry people to fuel tanks, action to tackle climate change, better regulation of food commodities markets to prevent food price hikes and improved land rights so people do not lose the land they rely upon to grow food.
"Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. And yes, today more than ever the United States needs another war on poverty; indeed, we need to eradicate poverty, and immigration reform and an increase in the minimum wage are steps in the right direction," said Nelson Mandela.
An Oxfam International report indicates that:
- 14.5% or more than 48,000,000 people in United States households struggle to put food on the table. 15,900,000 children live in these households.
- More than one in five children is at risk of hunger. Among African-Americans and Latinos, nearly one in three children is at risk of hunger.
- 85 of the richest people in the world have as much wealth as 3.5 billion of the poorest.
- Almost half of the world's wealth is now owned by just 1% of the population.
- The wealth of the 1% richest people in the world amounts to $110 trillion - that's 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the world's population.
Brazil's 'Zero Hunger' program successfully managed to move 40 million people out of poverty into the middle class in the last 10 years. Ecuador, Uruguay and Venezuela are following suit.
A study led by the University of California in Los Angeles stated that legitimate immigrants earn higher salaries, obtain better jobs, start businesses and buy houses. The study also concluded that immigration reform will add $1.5 trillion to the gross domestic product over 10 years thus enabling immigrant workers full labour rights resulting in higher wages and greater worker productivity for all workers in industries where large numbers of immigrants are employed.
According to Oxfam's latest figures, more than 840 million people go hungry every day despite there being enough food to go around. This index is a snapshot based on the most recent available quantitative global data, indicating some of the challenges that people face today.
Oxfam International was formed in 1995 by a group of independent non-governmental organizations. Their aim is to work together for greater impact on the international stage to reduce poverty and injustice.
Founded in Britain in 1942, the name “Oxfam” comes from the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief. The group campaigned for food supplies to be sent through an allied naval blockade to starving women and children in enemy-occupied Greece during World War II.
As well as becoming a world leader in the delivery of emergency relief, Oxfam International implements long-term development programs in vulnerable communities. As part of a global movement, Oxfam campaigns with others to end unfair trade rules, demands better health and education services for all and combats climate change.
Today, there are 17 member organizations of the Oxfam International confederation. They are based in Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Ireland, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Quebec, Spain and the United States.
Review the data at http://www.oxfamamerica.org/publications/good-enough-to-eat-full-data
The rankings are visualized in full at: http://www.oxfam.org.uk/what-we-do/good-enough-to-eat