What is Hunger?
What is hunger? For some American high schoolers, waiting for the bell to go to lunch can be excruciating. Stomachs are growling, teenagers are getting cranky, but are they truly hungry?
To be hungry, or “malnourished,” means that, due to a lack of nutritional intake, energy is completely lacking. This often results in a severe inability to perform simple tasks or to concentrate on anything other than food.
Furthermore, the worries accompanying hunger lead to the idea of food insecurity. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization defines food insecurity as “a situation that exists when people lack secure access to sufficient amounts of safe and nutritious food for normal growth and development and an active and healthy life.”
In the 1970s, 30 percent of the people in our world suffered from hunger. Now we can proudly say that that percentage has been reduced to only 16 percent of the world, but this is still a staggering 925 million people.
The dangers of hunger extend past being temporarily without food. With a weakened body, malnourished people are much more prone to diseases like tuberculosis, dysentery and typhoid. The body also begins to feed on its own bone and muscle, creating a vicious cycle that typically ends with organs like the heart shutting down.
Hunger can affect mental capabilites as well. Without adequate nourishment, people are unable to concentrate and thus unable to advance educationally and socially.
Some unpleasant statistics from the WFP about hunger include the following:
- A lack of nutrition causes 45 percent of children deaths under the age of five.
- Two-thirds of Asia’s population is hungry.
- In the developing world, 66 million primary school-age children go to class hungry.
According to U.N. FAO Director-General, Jacques Diouf, “Defeating hunger is a realistic goal for our time, as long as lasting political, economic, financial and technical solutions are adopted.”
Organizations like Action Against Hunger, Grocers Against Hunger, UNICEF and countless more are fighting everyday to raise money and collect food for these suffering people throughout the world. These types of initiatives will not only put food on someone’s plate, but will extend their life expectancy, and improve communities. Just as Diouf claimed, global hunger can be defeated.
– Kathleen Lee
Sources: WFP, United Nations