Poor nutrition adversely affects Lanka’s ability to meet SDGs

COLOMBO (The Island/ANN) – According to World Food Programme study, poor nutrition status a major obstacle for achieving Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Zero Hunger.

Poor nutrition status remains an issue and continues to adversely impact Sri Lanka’s ability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDG 2 – Zero Hunger, according to a recent study of the World Food Programme (WFP).  

It points out that Sri Lanka has one of the highest rates -top 10 worst in the world- of acute malnutrition – which is 'wasting’ or thinness – in children under five years of age. These rates have remained largely unchanged over the last decade. Further over nutrition is rapidly emerging, with 45 per cent of women of reproductive age overweight or obese.

Over nutrition also is linked to the country’s high incidence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart disease and diabetes – causing more than three-quarters of all deaths.

The Scaling Up Nutrition Business Network (SUN BN), led by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), yesterday brought together thirty leading Sri Lankan businesses to pledge their support for three important agendas: improving workplace health and nutrition efforts; producing healthy food; and promoting healthy food consumption.

A global network spanning 41 countries, SUN BN aims to reduce malnutrition in all its forms through engaging and supporting businesses to act, invest and innovate in responsible and sustainable actions and operations to improve nutrition. Recognizing the critical role of the private sector in providing solutions to health and nutrition issues, WFP helped establish SUN Business Network in March 2019 to address the gap between rapid national economic growth and stagnant malnutrition rates.

Sri Lanka became a signatory to the SUN Global Movement, of which the SUN BN is one action pillar. Last month, Sri Lanka was internationally recognized at the SUN Movement - Global Gathering in Kathmandu, Nepal for bringing together the private sector and taking bold action to improve nutrition at all levels.

This meeting considered Sri Lanka members’ specific action plans for 2020 as part of a larger strategy going forward,  including establishing common goals and results for collaboration between all stakeholders over the next two years.

Shanelle de Almeida, Group Wellness Manager of Hemas Holdings PLC and the lead of the workplace health and nutrition workgroup said: "The SUN BN is a great initiative to bring together likeminded organisations and people who are passionate about creating a healthy food culture in our community. The network provides a communication bridge for positive change".

Expanding on the role of the SUN BN, Brenda Barton, WFP Representative in Sri Lanka said: "WFP is happy to facilitate this platform for businesses in Sri Lanka. The network connects the private sector, governments, civil society, the United Nations, and academia in a collective effort to improve nutrition in Sri Lanka. Convening, assessing and advocating for nutrition is more important than ever before with the country facing a nutritional ‘double burden’  — undernutrition rates unchanged for over a decade in addition to soaring rates of overweight and obesity."

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