The new estimates confirm that the prevalence of hunger at chronic or severe levels is relatively low in the ECA region. However, the prevalence of food insecurity at moderate or severe levels can be quite high. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to add people to the ranks of the food insecure. The ECA region is making progress overall in reducing malnutrition, but it is not on track regarding childhood overweight, adult obesity, anaemia and exclusive breastfeeding. Healthy diets protect against the effects of malnutrition, in all its forms, and promote better health.
This report shows that healthy diets cost, on average, five times more than diets that meet only dietary energy needs, making them unaffordable for many people throughout the region. To increase the affordability of healthy diets, the costs of nutritious foods must be lowered. This report also shows that hidden costs are much lower with healthy diets than with current consumption patterns, meaning that adopting healthy diet alternatives could lead to large cost savings.