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Hunger Kills Every 10 Seconds: A New Campaign

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The UK campaign, Enough Food for Everyone If, knows how to use statistics in a way that emphasizes their message.

The statistic they are currently using is that hunger kills every 10 seconds. This is derived from the fact that three million children died from hunger in 2011. Those three million deaths spread evenly across the year equals ten seconds a death.

Some assert that this statistic is a manipulation of the data, as the real issues surrounding those three million deaths are slightly complicated. It is not as simple as people simply starving to death.

A large portion of the deaths involved in the three million per year statistic are caused by infectious diseases or other things that poor nutrition can be related to. When children aren’t given the proper nutrition in the earliest parts of their lives, their bodies are much more susceptible to infectious diseases that a normal healthy child would simply be able to fight off.

The problem isn’t only involving malnutrition in children, but also malnutrition in mothers. In many societies, women aren’t given the best food in the household, therefore they can end up being malnourished during pregnancy and breast feeding, leading to malnutrition in their children.

Malnutrition is especially prevalent in communities that rely heavily on cereals and starches for their diets. These areas tend to neglect the importance of fruits and vegetables in their diets, and sometimes it is the case that milk or meats are avoided in these areas for cultural reasons.

Despite the complexities revolving around the statistic perpetuated by the IF campaign, the campaigners rely on the ‘hunger kills every 10 seconds’ statistic to give people a concrete way to think about the magnitude of global hunger. When people hear that three million died of hunger in 2011 they tend to block it out, as it is hard to conceptualize such a large number. The Enough Food for Everyone If campaign puts this statistic in an easy to understand way that makes people identify with individuals in poverty.

Enough Food for Everyone If uses its resources to raise awareness about world hunger in order to impact governmental decisions in favor of providing more aid to developing countries. The campaign also has put out helpful ways that people can contribute to ending hunger through their consumer choices, such as buying local, in season vegetables. The campaign is exemplifying how putting data in a certain manner and context can make all the difference in the impact is has.

Martin Drake

Source: BBC News, Enough Food for Everyone If
Photo: BBC News Images