Half the world hunger problem can be solved with cooking oil

According to my analysis in my book ‘Hunger Math’, the largest portion of the hunger problem is a lack of dietary fat. To summarize my conclusions, in the most severely-affected nations, in terms of kcal of macronutrients, the population on average has their dietary needs met for:

87.3% of carbs,
49% of protein,
34% of dietary fat;

in other words, the unmet need is:

12.7% for carbs,
51% for protein,
66% for fat.

Adding fat to the diets of the hungry provides more total calories as well as essential fatty acids. Therefore, making a healthy cooking oil (e.g. soybean or canola) available and inexpensive should be the cornerstone of any approach to world hunger. All of the carbs and protein in the world will not be sufficient to end world hunger, because fat is an essential nutrient. Foods like peanuts, tree nuts, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds are high in both protein and fat. So these foods are particularly well-suited to ameliorating world hunger.

vegetable-oil-pourA large portion of the world hunger problem can be solved with a modest increase in the use of vegetable oil in the diets of the hungry. For example, 4.5 tablespoons of oil a day is 63 grams and 557 kcal. This amount of fat by itself exceeds the 20% of daily calories from fat set as the IOM minimum for adults, if we use 2740 as the total daily calories. For a 2200 kcal diet, 557 kcal from fat is over 25% of daily calories.

Adding about 557 kcal from fat to the diets of the hungry will raise the total daily caloric intake of a large portion of the undernourished of the world to within normal limits. Once we also add protein to the diet, an even larger percent of the hungry will have sufficient total daily calories. Only a minority of the undernourished actually need additional carbohydrates. Simply adding 4 or 5 tablespoons of cooking oil to the daily diet of the hungry will lift a large percentage of them, perhaps more than half, out of hunger. Half the world hunger problem can be solved with several tablespoons of vegetable oil per person per day!

The problem of world hunger is primarily due to a lack of dietary fat, secondarily due to a lack of protein, and least of all due to a lack of carbohydrate. The approach of treating hunger by prioritizing macronutrients — (1) fat, (2) protein, (3) carbohydrates — should therefore prove to be very effective.


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