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21 Days for World Hunger – Day 2: Alarming and Curious Statistics

21 Days for World Hunger – Day 2: Alarming and Curious Statistics

According to the World POPClock, as of 1:13 UTC September 26, 2016, the total population of the World was projected at 7,341,907,137.

During spring of 2010 I conducted my first 21 Days for World Hunger experiment. At the time, the world population was 6.8 billion people. In six and a half years the population has increased by 500 million, which is 50 million more people than the combined populations of the United States (325 million), Mexico, (122 million) and Canada (35 million). In six years the earth has gained North America+. By 2050, the world’s population is expected to reach 9.7 billion.

Hunger in Africa

According to the Hunger Project, 98% of the world’s undernourished people live in developing countries.

Global Nutrition Consumption

The World Health Organization (WHO) put out data that are rather curious and puzzling to me. Look at the numbers to see if you agree.

The dietary energy consumption per person is the amount of food, in kcal (calories) per day, for each individual in the total population.

  • Globally the average is 2780 kcal/person/day
  • Developed countries 3429
  • Developing countries 2630
    ~Sub-Saharan Africa 2240
    ~Central Africa 1820 

For example, the world average of calories consumed (per person per day) is 2780. Already that seems high, but when you look at the data for developed countries, those numbers skyrocket to 3429 per person per day. Seriously, 3429? That’s a LOT of calories. I’ll continue to search for examples of this to better understand it. If anyone has insight, let me know.

I then checked with the WHO about the rise of obesity. Sure enough, worldwide, obesity has doubled since 1980.

Imagine what would happen if folks in the developed countries shared some of their calories to Sub-Saharan and Central Africa.

Caloric Intake Recommendations by the US Department of Agriculture

These numbers seem more realistic to me.

Calorie Recommendations, Men

The amount of calories men require each day varies based on their age and activity level. Calorie recommendations decrease with age. The USDA recommends men consume 2,000 to 2,600 calories if they’re sedentary, 2,200 to 2,800 calories if they’re moderately active and 2,400 to 3,000 calories per day if they are active.

Calorie Recommendations, Women

The amount of calories women require depends on age and activity level. But (according to the USDA) because women generally have a smaller frame and less lean body mass than men, they usually require fewer calories. The USDA recommends women consume 1,600 to 2,000 calories if they are sedentary, 1,800 to 2,200 calories if they’re moderately active and 2,000 to 2,400 calories per day if they are active.

Global Hunger Index

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) is the organization that identifies and analyzes policies for meeting the food needs of the developing world. Their fabulous website houses useful tools and valuable information about hunger including the Global Hunger Index (GHI).

To reflect the multidimensional nature of hunger, the GHI combines the following four indicators into one index:

  • Undernourishment: the proportion of undernourished people as a percentage of the population (reflecting the share of the population whose caloric intake is insufficient;
  • Child wasting: the proportion of children under the age of five who suffer from wasting (that is, low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition);
  • Child stunting: the proportion of children under the age of five who suffer from stunting (that is, low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition); and
  • Child mortality: the mortality rate of children under the age of five (partially reflecting the fatal synergy of inadequate nutrition and unhealthy environments).

Famine Fast Facts  

Number and Prevalence (%) of Undernourished in the World:
(Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)
1990-1992 – 1010.6 million (18.6% of the world)
2000-2002 – 929.6 million (14.9% of the world)
2005-2007 – 942.3 million (14.3% of the world)
2010-2012 – 820.7 million (11.8% of the world)
2014-2016 estimates – 794.6 million (10.9% of the world)

Check out some more fascinating famine fast facts here.

Hunger Trends

The GHI severity scale ranks countries on a 100-point scale based on the above 4 component indicators with 0 meaning no hunger (the best rank) and 100 meaning severe hunger – labeled extremely alarming.

Values less than ≤ to 9.9 low
Values between 10-19.9 reflect moderate hunger
Values between 20-34.9 indicate “serious”
Values between 35 to 49.9 indicate an “alarming”
Values between 50 and 100 are “extremely alarming”

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)  offers a useful interactive map for The Global Hunger Index (GHI).

If the map looks like it’s in German, click anywhere and it should revert back to English. Drag the marker to any country and click to see the severity of hunger in that country. Click again and the data compare present day to the data from 2005. It’s encouraging to see decreasing numbers, but those numbers still represent nearly one billion people. That’s nearly one billion people too many to be suffering in the absence of food.

While no extremely alarming countries are listed on this current GHI Index, there are several countries where data on undernourishment are not available for this year: Bahrain, Bhutan, Burundi, Comoros, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (highest GHI score of all countries in the 2011 report but current data is missing), Eritrea, Libya, Oman, Papua New Guinea, Qatar, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Syrian Arab Republic.

In 2014, Burundi, Comoros, Eritrea, and Sudan and South Sudan were listed as Alarming or Extremely Alarming.

The IFPRI identified the eight countries that still suffer from levels of hunger that are considered alarming. Most are in Sub-Saharan Africa. Three exceptions are Afghanistan, Haiti, and Timor-Leste. The Central African Republic, Chad, and Zambia have the highest 2015 GHI scores. Those countries have garnered the attention of world hunger experts, because they’ve also had less of a reduction in hunger compared to other countries.

GHI scores have never been calculated for Somalia due to data constraints, yet the World Food Programme considers it one of the most food insecure countries in the world.

Despite the absence of data for these countries, it’s important we don’t fail them by forgetting about them. See more here.

The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) also has an interactive hunger map where you can click on the country and the FAO provides population and hunger statistics of that country. It’s cool. Check it out.


My Daily Food Intake Plan for Day 2
Weight 118

Low-level anxiety kicked me out of bed this morning. Today is the day that I start the diet part of this journey. Yesterday I claimed to have eaten my normal food intake, and for the most part, yes, I did that. The chocolate bar was an added bonus. But what I noticed this morning was a massive pit in my stomach. Usually I don’t wake up hungry, so why did I today? We had dinner late last night, it was after 9:00 PM. Turns out eating late throws insulin and blood glucose levels off balance leading to extreme hunger the next morning. What a bummer! THIS is not the morning I wanted to wake up with a hollow, hunger pit in my gut.

You’ll notice my weight today is 1/2 pound higher than yesterday. This is precisely one of the reasons I have a passionate dislike for scales. So many of us put too much weight on those numbers. Did I gain an additional 1/2 pound yesterday? Hell no. That would’ve required eating an extra 1800 calories on top of my normal food intake. No. Many factors play into those numbers including water retention. I had too much salt last night on my Red Hot Blues tortilla chips. I just.couldn’t.stop.eating.them. I.Love.Them.So

I think for anyone who is changing their diet, that one of the most important gauges is overall feeling – energy, vitality, emotional well-being. I understand the value of having quantifiable numbers, because these help us assess progress over time – over time being the operative words. Placing too much emphasis on the numbers today compared to yesterday could set you up for failure. But noticing your skin has a healthy glow or that you don’t feel as sluggish today, that’s good stuff.

Today’s caloric intake is 1200 calories. I just don’t have the courage to bring it down to 1000 calories, yet. I know. People living with hunger don’t eat smoothies.

Maybe tomorrow?


Groovy Kombucha Smoothie

Frozen Blueberries 1/2 Cup
Plain Coconut Milk Yogurt 1/4 Cup
Banana (frozen) 1/2 medium
Frozen Mango Chunks *100% of daily vitamin C 1/2 Cup
Hemp Milk 1/2 Cup
Hemp seeds 1.5 tsp
Coconut Milk 2 tbsp + 2 tsp
Kombucha (pomegranate lemon) 1/2 Cup

Start with frozen mangos and hemp milk in the blender. Blend for 15 seconds. Add blueberries and yogurt. Blend for 15 seconds. Add banana, hemp seeds, coconut milk and drizzle in the kombucha until you reach your preferred consistency.

**For the record, this is not an African meal. But you knew that already. I have a freezer filled with organic fruit and a large container of coconut milk yogurt in the fridge to use up.  Sure was yummy.

Groovy Smoothie
That’s a dollop of coconut milk on top. A top dollop. Yum.

Simple Salad with Leftovers & 1 Slice of Garlic Bread

Lettuce-Romaine 1/2 head (small)
Spinach 1/2 cup
Tomato 1 med
Pumpkin Seeds (I dry roast these) 2 TBSP
Yellow Pepper 1/2
Garbanzo Beans 1/2 cup
Dulse Sea Vegetable 1/3 cup
Avocado 1/2
Sprouts (lentils I sprout at home) 2 TBSP
Peperoncini (I LOVE these, but 3 may be too much for some folks) 3 peppers
Dressing – Olive Oil (I mix a batch that includes 1/4 cup of olive oil and take a portion of that for my salad) 1.5 Tbsp
Dressing – Vinegar (About 1.5 TBSP of vinegar to 1 TBSP yellow mustard & a dash of salt with the olive oil and vinegar) To taste
Sprouted Wheat Bread w/ Organic Earth Balance Buttery Spread (toast bread, spread, sprinkle with garlic powder and salt) 1
Fresh veggies – especially picked right from the garden – are maybe the most delicious thing in the world besides smoothies and dark chocolate.



If we can muster up that degree of commitment and get away from the uniquely American perception that if something can’t be done immediately it isn’t worth doing, then I think the Hunger Movement, this small but growing minority of us, can have a truly significant impact.
~Harry Chapin


To read other posts in this series, click click click the links. Please share your comments!

Day 1:    The Food Justice Diet
Day 2:    Alarming and Curious Statistics
Day 3:    Finish Your Plate, There are Children Starving in Ethiopia
Day 4:    The Nameless Hungry
Days 5-6:  “Where Does She Get Her Protein??”
Day 7:    One Small NGO Making a Big Impact in Ethiopia
Day 8:    The Language of Hunger
Day 9:    Plenty of Soy Solutions in Latin America
Days 10-11: Can Small-scale farming feed the world?
Day 12: Why Organic Farming?
Days 13-14: The Have and Have-Nots of Southeast Asia
Day 15: Have You Eaten Today?
Day 16: Hunger in America
Days 17 & 18: Hunger’s Dirty Little Secret
Day 19: Eat Plants
Day 20: Watch This, Read That
Day 21: The Power of Activism


  1. Ann Stockwell

    Hi Kenda! I’m hungry just reading this and I’m thinking about food and my consumption. My focus with my family is around food waste. I do my best and it’s still not great. Sam want s to see your blog.

    1. Kenda

      Hey Annie B! I was tossing around the idea of writing a post on food waste. I’m guilty of this, too, finding forgotten foods in the back of the fridge, etc. I know you do your best gf.

      I’d love it if Sam read the blog. 🙂

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