Pope Francis Laments ‘True Paradox’ of Hunger and Obesity

Pope Francis reacts during the inauguration of a UNESCO chair at the Pontifical Lateran University on October 7, 2021 in Rome. (Photo by Filippo Monteforte/AFP via Getty Images)
Filippo Monteforte/AFP via Getty Images

ROME, Italy — Pope Francis commemorated World Food Day Friday, urging nations to combat food insecurity and work to achieve environmental sustainability.

“The annual celebration of World Food Day faces us with one of humanity’s greatest challenges: the ambitious goal of overcoming hunger once and for all,” the pope said in a Spanish-language message to the director of the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

“We are currently witnessing a true paradox in terms of access to food,” Francis said. “On the one hand, more than 3 billion people do not have access to a nutritious diet, while, on the other hand, almost 2 billion are overweight or obese due to poor eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle.”

“If we do not want to endanger the health of our planet and our entire population, we must encourage active participation in change at all levels and reorganize food systems as a whole,” he said.

The pontiff praised the theme proposed by the FAO for this year’s celebration — “Our actions are our future: Better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life” — saying it underlines the need for joint action so that everyone has access to diets that guarantee maximum environmental sustainability and are also available at an affordable price.

“Each of us has a role to play in transforming food systems for the benefit of people and the planet,” the pontiff proposed.

We must “urge producers and consumers to make ethical and sustainable decisions and educate younger generations in the important role they play in making a world without hunger a reality,” he said, noting that such a process begins in “our daily lives and the simplest gestures.”

“The pandemic gives us the opportunity to change course and invest in a global food system that can deal sensibly and responsibly with future crises,” Francis suggested, highlighting the role of small producers and the need to reinforce resistance to climate change.

The fight against hunger “requires overcoming the cold logic of the market, avidly focused on mere economic benefit and reducing food to just another commodity,” the pope said, urging that this mentality give way to “the logic of solidarity.”

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