Both Feast & Famine: The Historical Legitimacy of the Right to Food in Addressing Overnutrition

Title: Both Feast & Famine: The Historical Legitimacy of the Right to Food in Addressing Overnutrition
Authors: Houston, Adam R
Date: 2016-09-02
Abstract: Hunger and obesity might initially appear fundamentally opposite conditions. Per Olivier de Schutter, then UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, in his 2011 report to the UN Human Rights Council, they are both manifestations of malnutrition resulting from the failure to realize the Right to Food. This marked the first high-profile description of overnutrition as a counterpart to undernutrition in the context of the Right to Food. This paper argues that this interpretation is both logical and has historical legitimacy. A review of the history of both the Right to Food and concepts of nutrition at the international level underscores that malnutrition has a broader meaning than simply minimum caloric intake. Earlier interpretations of the right emphasizing starvation and chronic hunger have reflected the predominant concerns of their times. Today, those concerns have shifted; more people worldwide are obese than are underweight, and more deaths worldwide are linked to overnutrition than undernutrition. This rise in mortality is accompanied by growing understanding that overnutrition, like undernutrition, is heavily influenced by factors under state rather than individual control. In turn, the emerging double burden of overnutrition and undernutrition in many communities underscores the fact that these two serious concerns are both facets of the same underlying issue. By demonstrating the legitimacy of addressing overnutrition from a Right to Food perspective, it is hoped that this paper will highlight a potentially useful advocacy tool for promoting effective legal and policy solutions to a serious global issue.
CollectionCREPD - Documents de travail // HRREC - Working Papers