About 70% of those “hidden costs” come from the consumption of ultra-processed foods and diets that are high in fats and sugar: report.
By Celia Bergin, Bloomberg
11 Nov 2023 04:00
The food and farming industries cost the global economy more than $10 trillion a year through unhealthy diets, environmental damage and under-nourishment.
About 70% of those “hidden costs” come from the consumption of ultra-processed foods and diets that are high in fats and sugar, according to a report on Monday from the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization. That leads to obesity and non-communicable diseases, driving labour productivity losses, especially in upper and middle-income countries.
The global food industry and agricultural markets have come under increasing scrutiny after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine pushed up prices, adding to a cost-of-living crisis. The hidden costs identified by the FAO in its survey of 154 countries have a disproportionate impact on poorer nations, where losses are mainly related to poverty and malnutrition.
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The hidden costs range from $10 trillion to $16 trillion a year, with $12.7 trillion the probable outcome, according to the FAO. About a fifth of those expenses relate to the environment, including greenhouse gas and nitrogen emissions, land-use change and water use.
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