Do trans-fat bans save lives?
Brandon Restrepo, Matthias Rieger 16 July 2014
Artificial trans fat is omnipresent in the global food chain, but the medical consensus is that it increases the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease and stroke. Between 2007 and 2011, New York City and six other county health departments implemented bans on trans fat in restaurants. This column presents the first evaluation of the effect of these bans on cardiovascular disease mortality rates.
The use of artificial trans fat or partially hydrogenated oil – which is industrially produced by adding hydrogen gas to liquid vegetable oil – is widespread across the world’s food production chains and service industries. Aside from the fact that it has the same caloric value as any other fat, there are no known health benefits to consuming artificial trans fat. The food industry prefers using trans-fat-containing oils to healthier oils because it is cheap, it increases the shelf life of food products, it promotes flavour stability, and it improves the texture of food.
health, food, diet, trans fat, New York, cardiovascular disease, restaurants
More to do on measuring hunger
Joachim De Weerdt, Kathleen Beegle, Jed Friedman, John Gibson 18 February 2014
Whereas the Millennium Development Goal of reducing extreme poverty by half was achieved by 2010, the global hunger rate has only fallen by a third since 1990. Differences in survey design may account for part of this discrepancy. This column presents the results of a recent experiment in which households were randomly assigned to different survey designs. These different designs yield vastly different hunger estimates, ranging from 19% to 68% of the population being hungry.
One of the first Millennium Development Goals is to reduce hunger by half between 1990 and 2015. To date, the global hunger count has fallen slightly, from 1 billion in 1990–1992 to 870 million in 2010–2012 (Food and Agriculture Organization 2013). As a proportion of the world’s population, this is just a one-third fall in the hunger rate, from 19% to 13%. In contrast, the other highly visible Millennium Development Goal – reducing extreme poverty by half – was achieved by 2010.
Poverty and income inequality
development, Africa, Poverty, Millennium Development Goals, food, hunger, measurement error, surveys, Tanzania
Do food prices respond to oil-price shocks?
Christiane Baumeister, Lutz Kilian 30 November 2013
Recently, there has been great concern among policymakers worldwide about rising food prices and increased food-price volatility. It is widely believed that oil and food prices have become closely linked after 2006, owing in part to a shift in US biofuel policies. This column presents evidence that challenges this conventional wisdom.
Increases in agricultural commodity prices and food prices in recent years have raised concerns among policymakers about a global food shortage. For example, the director of the International Food Policy Research Institute testified in 2008 that rising prices for agricultural crops were causing food riots in many developing countries, and that, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 37 countries were facing food crises (Rosegrant 2008).
Commodity prices, Poverty, oil, food, biofuel, ethanol
Africa can help feed Africa: Removing barriers to regional trade in food staples
Paul Brenton 08 January 2013
Africa is not achieving its potential in food trade, increasing the risk of widespread hunger and malnutrition. This column argues that the most serious problems for the continent are problems of political economy and barriers along the value chain. The good news is that, despite demand for food throughout Africa predicted to double over the next decade, governments can act now to overcome these problems. With a regional approach to food security, African governments can spur on benefits to farmers and consumers as well as job creation along the value chain of staples.
Africa is not achieving its potential in food trade.
Growing demand for food in Africa is increasingly being met by imports from the global market. This, coupled with rising global food prices, is leading to ever mounting food import bills. Clearly something has to change. Business as usual with regard to food staples in Africa is not sustainable.
Figure 1. All regions in Africa are increasingly importing food (volume of net exports of food staples: 1,000 tons)
Africa, trade, food