The Asia Pacific
Jess Fanzo, FAO and Johns Hopkins University
November 29, Bangkok
What people are eating around the world
Source: Afshin, GBD DC Food Forum Sept 2018
Why the Asia-Pacific context is unique
▪ Massive population and population pressure
▪ Food systems are very diverse because of the
many distinct economies and drivers that
▪ However inequities exist – across urban and
rural food systems and environments
▪ Burdens are quite distinct as well, depending
on the country and even sub-nationally
▪ Different cultures, traditions and social norms
with food and eating
Source: FAO SOFI RAP Region 2018
Transformations of the Asian agri-food economy
▪ Urbanization - 56% by 2030 and 64% by 2050
▪ Agri-food system transformation - “post
farmgate” segments of the supply chain moved
to secondary and primary cities
▪ Rural factor market transformation – rural
nonfarm employment increasing
▪ Intensification of farm technology - farms have
commercialized; and diversified, and
▪ Dietary changes – Bennett’s law in action
Source: T. Reardon, C.P. Timmer / Global Food Security 3 (2014) 108–117
What people are eating in Asia
Source: GDD Tufts; Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition. 2016. Food systems and diets: Facing the challenges of the 21st century. London, UK
Dietary intake of food groups, 2010 Changes in dietary intake, 1990-2013
What are the diet trends in the Asia Pacific?
Source: Baker and Friel Globalization and Health (2016) 12:80
Distribution share (%) of processed foods through
modern grocery retail channels, 1999–2013
Sales of ultra-processed food products and oils & fats, in
selected Asian markets, 2000–2013 with projections to
Nutrition consequences of global and Asian-Pac diets
people go to bed
children are stunted
children are wasted
overweight or obese
of countries face a
serious burden of
either two or three
forms of malnutrition
Source: Development Initiatives 2018 Global Nutrition Report; UNICEF/WHO/World Bank Joint Malnutrition Estimates 2018
Health consequences of global diets
Source: GBD 2016 Risk Factors Collaborators (2017). Global, regional, and national comparative risk assessment of 84 behavioural, environmental and
occupational, and metabolic risks or clusters of risks, 1990–2016: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016. Lancet
High Socio-demographic Index Countries Low Socio-demographic Index Countries
Health consequences of Asian-Pac diets
Source: GBD 2018 Visual Hub
Risk factors that drive the most death and disability combined: 2007 and 2017
Equity consequences of Asian diets
Source: Tufts Global Dietary Database – Accessed November 2018; WFP Fill the Nutrient Gap + FAO SOFI RAP 2018
Climate consequences of Asian-Pac diets
Source: Ranganathan, J., Vennard, D., Waite, R.I.C.H.A.R.D., Dumas, P., Lipinski, B. and Searchinger, T., 2016. Shifting diets for a sustainable food future. World
Resources Institute; He, P., Baiocchi, G., Hubacek, K., Feng, K. and Yu, Y., 2018. The environmental impacts of rapidly changing diets and their nutritional quality
in China. Nature Sustainability, 1(3), p.122.
Impacts of diets on the environment: China case study
What can be done now, and into the future
▪ The malnutrition burden is massive, particularly for Asia: diets are major contributors to that
burden and we need significant action across food systems now.
▪ Environmental impacts of changing diets and food systems are significant.
▪ There are many policy actions that can be taken: National food policies should span value
chains, food environment and consumer demand.
▪ Composite approaches are needed: No one approach will do everything. A mix of regulatory,
fiscal, voluntary and other approaches is required.
▪ Consumption matters: Sustainable, safe, healthy eating patterns must be taken seriously.
▪ Lack of evidence is no excuse for inaction: action generates evidence.
▪ A whole food system approach is needed: While there are health and environmental win-
wins there can be trade-offs too as seen with the different health and environmental impacts of
sugars and meats. There will also be food system trade-offs, and the different interests of
different stakeholders need to be recognized.