National Nutrition Week: a World Food Day blog

This week is not only National Nutrition Week but today is also World Food Day. On the 16th of October 1945, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) was founded. World Food Day commemorates this day annually and each year there is a different focus. This year’s focus is ‘Zero Hunger’. We have invited two Deakin researchers with expertise in food and nutrition security and hunger alleviation to share their thoughts:

A ‘Zero Hunger’ world by 2030

World Food Day is recognised across the globe, on this day, every year.

There is much to celebrate today! Most people in the world enjoy varied diets and have consistent access to safe food and water. Exciting initiatives are happening all around the world. Examples include urban farming projects, food waste reduction programs, social enterprises, and fair food movements. Food can be a joyous expression of culture and history and can bring people together.  

However, today is also a day to recognise a concerning global trend (Box 1).

After many years of progress and reduction, global hunger and undernutrition are actually on the rise. This is why this year’s World Food Day theme is ‘Zero Hunger’. This goal is set for 2030, in line with the Sustainable Development agenda.

Hunger is on the rise  

According to the latest data, more than 820 million people are undernourished, up from 783 million in 2014 and rising for the first time after a decade of decline (Box 2).

Hunger is a complex problem. Some of the drivers include regional and in-country conflict, climate change related disasters, crises in the global economy, and persistent inequality.

To make matters worse, in many countries, undernutrition exists alongside increasing rates of overweight and obesity. Around the world, food systems are transitioning from traditional food systems that are associated with undernutrition, to mixed food systems and modern food systems, that are associated with overweight and obesity. For more details, see here for a guest presentation made by Professor Jess Fanzo last month at the IPAN Food Policy Symposium.

The good news is that food and nutrition security can be improved, history shows, when influential actors all work together.

The Sustainable Development Goals provide the framework to support coordinated action to address malnutrition in all its forms. A range of resources are available to citizens, governments and other stakeholders, to help tackle hunger at home and abroad. Significant action is needed to meet the 2030 target of a zero hunger world.

Hunger in Australia

Conservative national estimates from the Australian Health Survey suggest 4% of households (approximately one million) experience food insecurity.

Food insecurity is often the proxy used for hunger and sometimes referred to as ‘first world hunger’. It is likely that Australian Health Survey data will be used to monitor Australia’s progress against the Zero Hunger target for 2030. However, data is not collected regularly, and the question used to assess food insecurity in Australia is not a comprehensive measure.

Today, FoodBank Australia will launch their annual hunger report. FoodBank and range of other food charities provide food to thousands of people experiencing food insecurity. However, it will take more than charity to address the underlying causes of food insecurity and hunger. Leadership and action from governments, and others, is vital and achievable by 2030.

So what can YOU do today?

Nutrition science and dietetics students, staff and stakeholders are well placed to take action on the issue of hunger.

The FAO website has some practical tips on how individuals can advocate for #zerohunger. The Dietitians Association of Australia, the Public Health Association of Australia and the Right to Food Coalition also have resources.

Your own food choices matter. By consuming a diet that is healthy and environmentally sustainable, you can make a difference to the way food systems operate. Choosing foods that are fairly produced and supporting social enterprises can lead to better wages and more socially responsible food businesses. Vote with your fork!

Hunger is often a hidden issue. Today is a good day to understand the facts and get inspired. A zero hunger world by 2030 is possible. Let’s make it happen.


For further information about National Nutrition Week and the Tryfor5 campaign visit Nutrition Australia.


Dr Rebecca Lindberg (Lecturer Human Nutrition) and Kate Wingrove (PhD student)

Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN)

School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences

Deakin University

Join the conversation

back to top