A disturbing and extraordinary aspect of life in this wealthy country is the persistence of hunger.

• About 183 million children weigh less than they should for their age.

• Every 3.6 seconds someone dies of hunger.

• One in twelve people worldwide is malnourished, including 160 million children under the age of 5

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported that in 2008:

• Of the 49.1 million people living in food insecure households (up from 36.2 million in 2007):

32.4 million are adults (14.4 percent of all adults)  and 16.7 million are children (22.5 percent of all children)

• 17.3 million people lived in households that were considered to have “very low food security,” a USDA term that means one or more people in the household were hungry over the course of the year because of the inability to afford enough food. This was up from 11.9 million in 2007 and 8.5 million in 2000.

• Very low food security had been getting worse even before the recent recession. The number of people in this category in 2008 is more than double the number in 2000.

• Black (25.7 percent) and Hispanic (26.9 percent) households experienced food insecurity at far higher rates than the national average.

• The infant mortality rate is closely linked to inadequate nutrition among pregnant women. The U.S. ranks 23rd among industrial nations in infant mortality. African-American infants die at nearly twice the rate of white infants.

• Urban Institute in Washington DC estimated that one out of 6 elderly people in the U.S. has an inadequate diet.

Globally, no one really knows how many people are malnourished. The statistic most frequently cited is that of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, which measures ‘under-nutrition’

The most recent estimate, released on October 14, 2009 by FAO, reports:1.02 billion people are undernourished, a sizable increase from its 2006 estimate of 854 million people.

The increase has been due to three factors:

1) neglect of agriculture relevant to very poor people by governments and international agencies;

2) the current worldwide economic crisis; and

3) the significant increase of food prices in the last several years which have been devastating to those with only a few dollars a day to spend. 1.02 billion people is 15 percent of the estimated world population of 6.8 billion.

Nearly all of the undernourished are in developing countries.

• In Asian, African and Latin American countries, well over 500 million people are living in what the World Bank has called “absolute poverty.”

• Every year 15 million children die of hunger.

• The World Health Organization estimates that one-third of the world is well-fed, one-third is under-fed and one-third is starving.

• Since you’ve entered this site at least 200 people have died of starvation. Over 4 million will die this year.

• The Indian subcontinent has nearly half the world’s hungry people. Africa and the rest of Asia together have approximately 40%, and the remaining hungry people are found in Latin America and other parts of the world.

• Nearly one in four people, 1.3 billion – a majority of humanity – live on less than $1 per day.

• 3 billion people in the world today struggle to survive on US$2/day.

• Half of all children under five years of age in South Asia and one third of those in sub-Saharan Africa are malnourished.

• Malnutrition is implicated in more than half of all child deaths worldwide – a proportion unmatched by any infectious disease since the Black Death.

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