World hunger, malnutrition soared last year mostly due to COVID-19

World hunger and malnutrition levels worsened dramatically last year, with most of the increase likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a multi-agency United Nations (U.N.) report published on Monday.

After remaining virtually unchanged for five years, the number of undernourished people rose to around 768 million last year – equivalent to 10% of the world’s population and an increase of around 118 million versus 2019, the report said.

Authored by U.N. agencies including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), the report is the first comprehensive assessment of food insecurity and nutrition since the pandemic emerged.

“Unfortunately, the pandemic continues to expose weaknesses in our food systems, which threaten lives and livelihoods. No region of the world has been spared,” the U.N. agencies said in a joint statement.

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