The 3 Billion People Who Can’t Afford a Healthy Diet

The 3 Billion People Who Can’t Afford a Healthy Diet

While they aren’t often the focus of news media, hunger and undernourishment are problems plaguing millions of people every day.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), more than 3 billion people could not afford a healthy diet in 2020, an additional 112 million more people than in 2019. The increase was partially because of rising food prices, with the average cost of a healthy diet rising by 3.3% from 2019 levels.

As of August 2022, the FAO food price index was up 40.6% from average 2020 levels. Unless income levels increased by a similar magnitude, the healthy diet crisis is likely to have worsened, especially in low-income countries experiencing rampant food inflation.

Using data from the FAO, the above infographic maps the share of people unable to afford a healthy diet in 138 different countries as of 2020 (latest available data).

The Cost and Affordability of a Healthy Diet

According to the FAO, a healthy diet is one that meets daily energy needs as well as requirements within the food and dietary guidelines created by the country.

The (un)affordability is measured by comparing the cost of a healthy diet to income levels in the country. If the cost exceeds 52% of an average household’s income, the diet is deemed unaffordable.

Here’s a look at the share of populations unable to afford a healthy diet, and the cost of such a diet around the world:

country Percent of population unable to afford a healthy diet Cost of Healthy Diet (USD per Person per Day)
Burundi ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฎ 97.2% $2.9
Madagascar ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฌ 97.0% $3.2
Liberia ๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ท 96.8% $3.9
Malawi ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ผ 96.6% $3.1
Nigeria ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฌ 95.9% $4.1
Central African Republic ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ซ 95.1% $3.6
guinea ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ณ 94.9% $4.1
Angola ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ด 94.3% $4.5
Congo ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฌ 92.4% $3.4
Sudan ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฉ 91.8% $4.3
Mozambique ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฟ 91.5% $3.2
Democratic Republic of Congo ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฉ 90.0% $2.1
Sierra Leone ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฑ 89.2% $2.9
Niger ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ช 88.8% $2.9
Zambia ๐Ÿ‡ฟ๐Ÿ‡ฒ 88.0% $3.3
Tanzania ๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ฟ 87.6% $2.7
Guinea-Bissau ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ผ 87.2% $3.5
Ethiopia ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡น 86.8% $3.4
Rwanda ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡ผ 86.3% $2.7
Haiti ๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡น 85.9% $4.5
Sao Tome and Principe ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡น 84.7% $3.6
Nepal ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ต 84.0% $4.4
Lesotho ๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ธ 83.5% $4.3
Pakistan ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฐ 83.5% $3.7
Chad ๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ฉ 83.4% $2.8
Benin ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฏ 82.9% $3.7
Uganda ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ฌ 82.2% $2.7
Kenya ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ช 81.1% $3.0
Burkina Faso ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ซ 80.1% $3.3
Laos ๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ฆ 79.8% $4.1
financial ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฑ 74.3% $3.1
Bangladesh ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฉ 73.5% $3.1
Egypt ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ฌ 72.9% $3.4
Eswatini ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฟ 71.8% $3.4
India ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ณ 70.5% $3.0
Indonesia ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฉ 69.1% $4.5
Philippines ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ญ 68.6% $4.1
Jamaica ๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ฒ 66.2% $6.7
South Africa ๐Ÿ‡ฟ๐Ÿ‡ฆ 65.2% $4.3
Myanmar ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฒ 65.1% $4.2
Gambia ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ฒ 64.0% $3.1
Djibouti ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฏ 63.9% $3.1
Botswana ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ผ 61.4% $3.7
Ghana ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ญ 61.2% $4.0
cameron ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฒ 60.7% $2.8
Mauritania ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ท 60.7% $3.7
Fiji ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฏ 60.4% $3.9
Suriname ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ท 58.8% $5.7
Namibia ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฆ 56.8% $3.5
Bhutan ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡น 53.0% $5.0
Mongolia ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ณ 51.4% $5.1
Honduras ๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ณ 51.3% $3.5
Iraq ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ถ 49.6% $3.5
Kyrgyzstan ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ฌ 49.6% $3.2
Sri Lanka ๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ฐ 49.0% $3.9
Senegal ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ณ 46.0% $2.3
Guyana ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡พ 43.0% $4.9
Armenia ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ฒ 42.9% $3.2
Tajikistan ๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ฏ 42.1% $3.5
Cabo Verde ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ป 38.1% $3.6
Belize ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฟ 36.4% $2.1
Gabon ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ฆ 36.3% $3.6
Nicaragua ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฎ 35.7% $3.3
Algeria ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฟ 30.2% $3.8
Vietnam ๐Ÿ‡ป๐Ÿ‡ณ 30.0% $4.1
Colombia ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ด 26.5% $3.1
Mexico ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฝ 26.3% $3.3
Bolivia ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ด 24.7% $3.8
Palestine ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ธ 23.1% $3.4
Ecuador ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡จ 21.4% $2.9
St. Lucia ๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡จ 20.6% $3.6
Peru ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ช 20.5% $3.3
Iran ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ท 20.3% $3.6
Tunisia ๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ณ 20.3% $3.6
Albania ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ฑ 20.1% $4.2
Brazil ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ท 19.0% $3.1
Dominican Republic ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ด 18.3% $3.9
Panama ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฆ 18.2% $4.5
North Macedonia ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฐ 18.0% $3.4
Paraguay ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡พ 17.8% $3.5
Montenegro ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ช 17.5% $3.5
Thailand ๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ญ 17.0% $4.3
Costa Rica ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ท 16.8% $4.1
Morocco ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฆ 16.7% $2.8
Serbia ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡ธ 16.3% $4.2
Jordan ๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ด 14.9% $3.6
Mauritius ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡บ 13.5% $3.6
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ 12.0% $3.0
Trinidad and Tobago ๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡น 11.6% $4.2
Romania ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡ด 8.8% $3.2
Bulgaria ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฌ 8.5% $4.1
Seychelles ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡จ 6.8% $3.8
Moldova ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฉ 6.7% $2.8
Chile ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฑ 3.8% $3.4
Croatia ๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ท 3.8% $4.3
Bosnia and Herzegovina ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฆ 3.7% $4.0
Uruguay ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡พ 3.6% $3.4
Russia ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ 3.5% $3.4
Greece ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ท 3.2% $3.1
Italy ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น 2.9% $3.1
Japan ๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต 2.5% $5.8
Hungary ๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡บ 2.0% $3.5
Spain ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ 2.0% $2.8
Malaysia ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡พ 1.9% $3.5
Latvia ๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ป 1.8% $3.2
South Korea ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ท 1.7% $5.2
United States ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ 1.5% $3.4
Maldives ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ป 1.4% $3.9
Estonia ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ช 1.3% $3.3
Kazakhstan ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ฟ 1.2% $2.7
Lithuania ๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡น 1.2% $3.1
Slovakia ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฐ 1.2% $3.2
Israel ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฑ 1.0% $2.5
Poland ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฑ 1.0% $3.2
Austria ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡น 0.8% $3.0
Australia ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ 0.7% $2.6
Canada ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ 0.7% $3.0
Malta ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡น 0.7% $3.8
Sweden ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ช 0.6% $3.3
Portugal ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡น 0.5% $2.7
United Kingdom ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง 0.5% $1.9
Denmark ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฐ 0.4% $2.5
Norway ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ด 0.4% $3.5
Cyprus ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡พ 0.3% $3.0
Belarus ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡พ 0.2% $3.3
Belgium ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ช 0.2% $3.1
Czechia 0.2% $3.0
Germany ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช 0.2% $3.0
Netherlands ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฑ 0.2% $3.0
Finland ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฎ 0.1% $2.7
France ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท 0.1% $3.2
Ireland ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ช 0.1% $2.2
Luxembourg ๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡บ 0.1% $2.7
Slovenia ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฎ 0.1% $3.1
Azerbaijan ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ฟ 0.0% $2.5
Iceland ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ธ 0.0% $2.4
Switzerland ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ญ 0.0% $2.7
United Arab Emirates ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ช 0.0% $3.1
world ๐ŸŒŽ 42.0% $3.5

In 52 countries, more than half of the population cannot afford a healthy diet. The majority of these are in Africa, with the rest located across Asia, Oceania, and the Americas.

By contrast, in four countriesโ€”Azerbaijan, Iceland, Switzerland, and the UAEโ€”everyone is able to afford a healthy diet. The picture is similar for most European and developed high-income countries, where more than 95% of the population Bell afford a healthy diet.

When the percentages are translated into numbers, Asia contains the most number of people unable to afford a healthy diet at 1.89 billion, of which 973 million people are in India alone. another 1 billion people are in Africa, with around 151 million people in the Americas and Oceania.

While hunger is a worldwide concern, it is particularly acute in African countries, which cover all of the top 20 spots in the above table.

Africa’s Deepening Food Crisis

In many countries across sub-Saharan Africa, more than 90% of the population cannot afford a healthy diet.

Sub-Saharan Africa is particularly susceptible to extreme climate events and the resulting volatility in food prices. rough one-third of the world’s droughts occur in the region, and some sub-Saharan countries are also heavily reliant on imports for food.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has deepened the crisis, with many African countries importing over 50% of their wheat from the two countries in conflict. The rising food prices from this supply chain disruption have resulted in double-digit food inflation in many African nations, which means that more people are likely to be unable to afford healthy diets.

The Horn of Africa region at the Eastern tip of Africa is particularly in turmoil. All the countries in the region are reliant on wheat from Russia and Ukraine, with Eritrea (100%) and Somalia (>90%) high up in the import dependency chart. Additionally, the region is facing its worst drought in 40 years alongside ongoing political conflicts. As a result, 22 million people are at risk of starvation.

Population Growth and Food Insecurity

In November of 2022, the global population is projected to surpass 8 billion people, and many of the fastest growing countries are also food-insecure.

By 2050, the global population is likely to increase by 35%, and to meet the growing demand for food, crop production will need to double. Given that agriculture is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, this increase in crop production will also need to be environmentally sustainable.

As the impacts of climate change intent and food demand increases, reducing food waste, building climate-resilient agricultural infrastructure, and improving agricultural productivity will all play a key role in reducing the levels of food insecurity sustainably.

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