Because food loss and waste is inextricably linked to the health of our environment and societal attitudes toward food production and consumption, it is also fundamentally tied to human health.
Major issues of under-nutrition in many developing countries and over-nutrition in developed countries are given a deep and interesting context when considered in light of the mostly infrastructure-based reasons for food loss in the former group and the consumer-based reasons for waste in the latter.
In sub-Saharan Africa, food loss due to inadequate infrastructure during the production to retailing process is estimated at just over 150 kg/year per capita. Many countries in this region are among those with the greatest proportions of children under age 5 who are moderately or severely underweight. Clearly, improved and efficient food production technology and infrastructure is sorely needed to improve the health of populations in these countries.
By contrast, the branding of food as a consumer product in developed countries such as those in North America displays societal attitudes to food in these countries as disposable, plentiful, and of low value. The correlation between these attitudes and population obesity rates in rich countries can be no accident.
Rather damning for rich, privileged countries, this comparison between regions in differing stages of economic development shines a hard light on the gross inequities in food systems across the globe.