Obesity is one of the leading causes of heart disease and metabolic syndromes. It leads to a deterioration in the quality of our life and often the length, too. Some experts have gone as far as saying childhood obesity is such an epidemic that this current generation of youngsters will have a shorter life expectancy than that of their parents!
The actors who built South Sudan knew what they were creating: a country barely emerged from decades of devastating conflict, led by a generation with no access to education or any kind of functioning infrastructure; a completely impoverished petro-state, entirely dependent on oil resources but with no capacity to develop them on its own; and a nation deeply split by ethnic divisions.
At first glance, it's not easy to be an ethical eater. We're told to cut back on meat to fight climate change and open up farmland for more nutrient-efficient grains. But we're also told to "eat local." So, on top of the multiple junkfood-and kale-related challenges of modern meal planning, how do we navigate this complex ethical menu?
It's becoming clearer that what we are putting into the environment is returning to haunt us, resulting in unnecessary loss of lives, malnourishment, disease and starvation. Another key lesson is, the developed nations are not shielded from climate change, nor do they have the capacity to deal with a devastation of such cataclysmic proportion as the recent severe weather event in Colorado.
September is hunger awareness month. We are not talking about the developing world where food shortages have long been a menace to vast parts of its populations, but in one of the wealthiest places on Earth. Regrettably, the long-term effects of food deprivation, especially at a young age, are not always readily understood or considered.
In January 2008, The Lancet, the world's leading medical journal, published its ground breaking series on maternal and child nutrition, which successfully identified to the world the damaging effects of undernutrition. We know that much has been accomplished to reduce the burden from undernutrition in the past five years; however, our work is far from over.
The dry hot season is going out and the cooler rainy season is coming in. Heavy showers have begun to fall and it is a relief for everyone. Starvation will hopefully ease. Yes, death is around us; but moreso, we are surrounded by life and survival. Day-in and day-out, this is the reality of our work here in eastern Chad.
We've seen an increasing amount in the news about Mali lately. A West African country in the grips of a conflict so brutal almost 400,000 people, mainly women and children, have had to flee their homes. With these concerns in mind, Plan has been stepping up our regular programs in Mali to help people through this period in their lives.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food will present his preliminary findings on food security in Canada on May 16 in Ottawa. It's my hope that this will put child hunger squarely on the political agenda in Canada. We live in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, but hunger is something that we increasingly see among the families that bring their children to the hospital for medical attention.
Those in the Horn of Africa who are in the midst of a famine are facing hunger and malnutrition on a scale few of us can comprehend. Even so, I've been dismayed by web-chatter to the effect of, "How long can we be expected to keep feeding these Africans who don't seem to be able to fend for themselves?"