#LAUNCHFood: Malnutrition By The Numbers

September 19, 2016

With our newest cycle, LAUNCH is taking on a challenge we’ve never tackled before: food.

Why food? Let’s walk through the numbers.

The global community has made great strides in curbing hunger worldwide: in the past 25 years, the number of undernourished people has decreased almost 45%. (That's 216 million people no longer going hungry!). Still, hunger is a huge public health problem: it kills more people every year than malaria, tuberculosis, and AIDS combined.

Undernutrition now accounts for 11% of the global burden of disease and is considered the number one risk to health worldwide. Developing countries bear the heaviest burden -- 12.9% of people in developing countries are undernourished, compared to 10.8% of the global population as a whole. 

While laypeople may associate malnutrition with hunger, the problem actually takes a number of forms -- one of which is obesity. Worldwide, 1 in 3 adults aged over 18 years is overweight and 1 in 10 is obese, increasing their likelihood of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, various cancers and osteoarthritis. And while it may seem counterintuitive, some of the regions hardest-hit by malnutrition tend to also have high rates of obesity. The co-incidence of under- and overnutrition is known as the “double burden” of malnutrition. These challenges are particularly felt in the Pacific Islands-- in fact, experts increasingly view this region as the 'canary in the coal mine' for this growing global challenge. 

Malnutrition isn’t just a health problem -- it also has major economic consequences. People who were undernourished as children are conservatively estimated to earn 10-20% less over the course of their lifetimes. In other words, hunger is a serious hindrance to economic empowerment, slowing growth and perpetuating the cycle of poverty.

This is a complex, multifaceted problem-- and LAUNCH is looking for ambitious answers. LAUNCH Food is a call for innovations that can transform people’s food choices, whether in the home, market, street, restaurant or community.* The questions we’re asking fall into two categories:

  • Producing Food: How can changes in food supply chains or production processes make food more available, affordable, convenient, desirable, and/or nutritious?

  • Consuming Food: How can we empower and incentivise people to change their eating and feeding behaviour?

Could your innovation help disrupt the way we do food? Learn how to develop and submit your idea here.

* The LAUNCH Food team recognises that food isn’t the only vehicle through which to combat malnutrition. However, food is the focus of our 2016 challenge. Join us!