Burundi, Eritrea, East Timor top global hunger index
By Kieran Guilbert
LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Sixteen countries have alarming levels of hunger, with Burundi the worst affected, according to an annual index released on Monday which also reveals that 2 billion people worldwide suffer from "hidden hunger".
Hidden hunger, which is a lack of vitamins and minerals, weakens the immune system, stunts physical and intellectual growth, and can lead to death.
Burundi, which tops the Global Hunger Index for the third year in a row, is followed by Eritrea, East Timor and Comoros.
Some 805 million people around the world are still chronically undernourished, according to the report, despite progress in combating hunger – three years ago, the index recorded 26 countries with "alarming" or "extremely alarming" hunger levels.
South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa face the highest levels of hunger.
Countries showing the largest improvement since 1990 include Angola, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Chad, Ghana, Malawi, Niger, Rwanda, Thailand and Vietnam.
The report said hidden hunger not only affects the well-being of individuals, but also has economic impacts, including lost productivity, persistent poverty, and reduced gross domestic product in many developing countries.
"Particularly in countries facing a high burden of malnutrition, hidden hunger goes hand in hand with other forms of malnutrition and cannot be addressed in isolation," said Bärbel Dieckmann, president of German aid agency Welthungerhilfe. Continued...