The Food Gap Between Good and Plenty

Because of the food gap between good and plenty, it’s increasingly clear that abundance does not necessarily lead to good health. Oxfam International has just released a new global food index and the U.S. falls short of making it into the top ten percent of countries ranked for how well their people eat.Oxfam Food Index - Diabetes and Obesity

Oxfam Food Index - Enough to Eat

Oxfam constructs their index around four key questions.

  1. Do people have enough to eat? Measured by the levels of undernourishment and underweight children.
  2. Can people afford to eat? Measured by food price levels and volatility.
  3. Is food of good quality? Measured by dietary diversity and access to clean, safe water.
  4. What is the extent of unhealthy outcomes of people’s diet? Measured by diabetes and obesity.

The U.S. scores best on affordability and quality of food. On having enough for all to eat, the U.S. scores well, but ranks behind a number of other countries. On unhealthy outcomes, only five countries scored worse than the U.S. — Mexico, Fiji, Jordan, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia.

So it seems that the U.S. has an affordable, safe, and reasonably plentiful food supply. Yet health outcomes tied to what we eat are among the worst in the world.

For clues on how to improve things, U.S. policymakers might look to the Netherlands, France, and Switzerland — countries that sit at the top of Oxfam’s overall food index rankings.

Plenty of affordable food is no guarantee of a good, healthy diet. So America is paying a price in obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases.

Click here to read more from the New York Times and here to read more from Oxfam International.

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