Developments in the availability of dietary energy

Food consumption expressed in kilocalories (kcal) per capita per day is a key variable used for measuring and evaluating the evolution of the global and regional food situation. A more appropriate term for this variable would be ''national average apparent food consumption" since the data come from national Food Balance Sheets rather than from food consumption surveys. Analysis of FAOSTAT data shows that dietary energy measured in kcals per capita per day has been steadily increasing on a worldwide basis; availability of calories per capita from the mid-1960s to the late 1990s increased globally by approximately 450 kcal per capita per day and by over 600 kcal per capita per day in developing countries (see Table 1). This change has not, however, been equal across regions. The per capita supply of calories has remained almost stagnant in sub-Saharan Africa and has recently fallen in the countries in economic transition. In contrast, the per capita supply of energy has risen dramatically in East Asia

(by almost 1000 kcal per capita per day, mainly in China) and in the Near East/North Africa region (by over 700 kcal per capita per day).

Table 1

Global and regional per capita food consumption (kcal per capita per day)

Table 1

Global and regional per capita food consumption (kcal per capita per day)

Region

1964-1966

1974-1976

1984-1986

1997-1999

2015

2030

World

2358

2435

2655

2803

2940

3050

Developing countries

2054

2152

2450

2681

2850

2980

Near East and North Africa

2290

2591

2953

3006

3090

3170

Sub-Saharan Africaa

2058

2079

2057

2195

2360

2540

Latin America and

2393

2546

2689

2824

2980

3140

the Caribbean

East Asia

1957

2105

2559

2921

3060

3190

South Asia

2017

1986

2205

2403

2700

2900

Industrialized countries

2947

3065

3206

3380

3440

3500

Transition countries

3222

3385

3379

2906

3060

3180

a Excludes South Africa.

Source: reproduced, with minor editorial amendments from reference 3with the permission of the publisher.

a Excludes South Africa.

Source: reproduced, with minor editorial amendments from reference 3with the permission of the publisher.

In short, it would appear that the world has made significant progress in raising food consumption per person. The increase in the world average consumption would have been higher but for the declines in the transition economies that occurred in the 1990s. It is generally agreed, however, that those declines are likely to revert in the near future. The growth in food consumption has been accompanied by significant structural changes and a shift in diet away from staples such as roots and tubers towards more livestock products and vegetable oils (4). Table 1 shows that current energy intakes range from 2681 kcal per capita per day in developing countries, to 2906 kcal per capita per day in transition countries and 3380 kcal per capita per day in industrialized countries. Data shown in Table 2 suggest that per capita energy supply has declined from both animal and vegetable sources in the countries in economic transition, while it has increased in the developing and industrialized countries.

Table 2

Vegetable and animal sources of energy in the diet (kcal per capita per day)

Region 1967-1969 1977-1979 1987-1989 1997-1999

T VAT VAT VAT VA

Table 2

Vegetable and animal sources of energy in the diet (kcal per capita per day)

Region 1967-1969 1977-1979 1987-1989 1997-1999

T VAT VAT VAT VA

Developing

2059

1898

161

2254

2070

184

2490

2248

242

2681

2344

337

countries

Transition

3287

2507

780

3400

2507

893

3396

2455

941

2906

2235

671

countries

Industrialized

3003

2132

871

3112

2206

906

3283

2333

950

3380

2437

943

countries

T, total kcal; V, kcal of vegetable origin; A, kcal of animal origin (including fish products). Source: FAOSTAT, 2003.

T, total kcal; V, kcal of vegetable origin; A, kcal of animal origin (including fish products). Source: FAOSTAT, 2003.

Similar trends are evident for protein availability; this has increased in both developing and industrialized countries but decreased in the transition countries. Although the global supply of protein has been increasing, the distribution of the increase in the protein supply is unequal. The per capita supply of vegetable protein is slightly higher in developing countries, while the supply of animal protein is three times higher in industrialized countries.

Globally, the share of dietary energy supplied by cereals appears to have remained relatively stable over time, representing about 50% of dietary energy supply. Recently, however, subtle changes appear to be taking place (see Fig. 1). A closer analysis of the dietary energy intake shows a decrease in developing countries, where the share of energy derived from cereals has fallen from 60% to 54% in a period of only 10 years. Much of this downwards trend is attributable to cereals, particularly wheat and rice, becoming less preferred foods in middle-income countries such as Brazil and China, a pattern likely to continue over the next 30 years or so. Fig. 2 shows the structural changes in the diet of developing countries over the past 30-40 years and FAO's projections to the year 2030 (3).

Figure 1

The share of dietary energy derived from cereals

Figure 1

The share of dietary energy derived from cereals

World

Developing countries

Industrialized countries

Transition countries

■ 1969-1971 □ 1979-1981 □ 1989-1991 ■ 1997-1999 [12015 H2030 Source: adapted from reference 4 with the permission of the publisher. who 03.19

World

Developing countries

Industrialized countries

Transition countries

■ 1969-1971 □ 1979-1981 □ 1989-1991 ■ 1997-1999 [12015 H2030 Source: adapted from reference 4 with the permission of the publisher. who 03.19

Figure 2

Calories from major commodities in developing countries

3000

2500

2000

1500

1000

Figure 2

Calories from major commodities in developing countries

2500

2000

1500

1000

1964-1966 ■ Other

  • Pulses
  • Roots and tubers

1997-1999 ■ Meat OH Sugar H Vegetable oils

2030 SS Other cereals H Wheat H Rice

1964-1966 ■ Other

  • Pulses
  • Roots and tubers

1997-1999 ■ Meat OH Sugar H Vegetable oils

Source: reproduced from reference 3 with the permission of the publisher.

2030 SS Other cereals H Wheat H Rice who 03.20

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