Sowing the seeds for a better food future in Asia

By: Sara Farley and Deepali Khanna

Global hunger has been on an indefensible rise for many years, and Asia—home to nearly half a billion of the world’s hungry and more than half of the world’s malnourished children—has not been spared. While global food systems have long been under stress, the Covid-19 pandemic pushed them to their breaking point, and the imperative to act has never been more important.

Covid-19 has also exposed the risk of poor diets. There is growing evidence that what we eat fundamentally impacts how we experience Covid-19. In one investigation, the odds of hospitalization were 16 times greater for people with obesity, diabetes or hypertension; 76% of deaths from Covid-19 are among individuals with an underlying condition, many of which are diet-related.

If we are to change this trajectory, the food systems of the future must be healthy, reliable and equitable. Fundamental shifts will be required to get there, because what we consume is about much more than daily individual choices of what to eat. Increasing the plate share of healthy foods, and decreasing the share of ultra-processed and nutrient-poor foods, requires action across government, the private sector, food producers and many other food sector actors.