Over the past decades, Brazil has made sustained efforts to reduce malnutrition, and its commitment has paid off. While all eyes are on the country for the Rio 2016 Summer Games, we look at ten things to know about food and nutrition.
1) Brazil has made enormous improvements in nutrition in recent decades thanks to the mobilization of civil society, the allocation of resources to nutrition, and political commitment followed by action.
2) Stunting rates declined from 19 percent in 1989 to 7 percent in 2007, and wasting rates are very low at 2 percent.
3) In 2010 Brazil included the human right to food in its constitution, one of only three countries in the world to do so. The law dictates freedom from hunger and malnutrition, and access to adequate and healthy food.
4) Exclusive breastfeeding of infants under 6 months underwent a remarkable improvement from 2 percent in 1986 to 39 percent in 2006.
5) Despite strong industry resistance, in 2015 Brazil managed to enforce a law regulating the marketing of breast milk substitutes.
6) Not all transitions have been for the better. Adult overweight and obesity are high at 54 percent and 20 percent respectively, and numbers are rising.
7) Despite recent improvements in income distribution, poverty remains widespread, and food and nutrition insecurity remains a problem in some communities.
8) Students in Brazilian public schools receive at least one meal per day as part of the National School Feeding Programme. Since 2009, a minimum of 30 percent of the programme’s food must be purchased from smallholder farmers, which supports farmers and increases access to fresh, nutritious food.
9) In 2014 Brazil issued ground-breaking dietary guidelines encouraging people to avoid ultra-processed products, cook whole foods at home, and to eat in company to increase enjoyment of food.
10) Since 2011 Brazil has been home to the Centre of Excellence against Hunger, a joint initiative between the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Brazilian Government. The Centre helps developing countries draw on Brazil’s experience in reducing malnutrition.