The United States’ food system ranks 21st in the world according to a new report, a perhaps surprisingly low score for the economic superpower.
The inaugural World Food Systems report judged the food systems in 125 different countries, ranking each nation based on four different major metrics: affordability of food, food quality, abundance of food, and the eating habits of citizens.
The report was issued by the international advocacy confederation, Oxfam.
The United States’ food systems score was adversely affected by both the nation’s high obesity and diabetes rate. Twenty European nations and Australia all ranked above America.
“Despite the huge technological advances of modern times, we are still failing to provide people with the basic sustenance they need to survive and eat healthily,” the report said. “This index shows how it is a phenomenon felt most starkly in poor countries, but not exclusively. Few countries are deserving of silver service status, with obesity, food prices and nutrition rates undermining the records of many of the richest countries – a burden which often weighs heaviest on their poorest citizens.”
The Netherlands scored the highest overall on the annual list, followed by France and Switzerland, which tied for second place. African nations largely comprised the bottom half of the list, with Chad scoring the lowest. Mexico and Canada tied for 25th. China weighed in at 57th.
The United States ranked second in having enough to eat, sixth in affordability of food, third in food quality, but 41st in unhealthy eating. In sub-categories, America ranked 36th in diabetes and 46th in obesity.
The quality of food category included considerations for “nutritionally diverse food options” and access to clean and safe drinking water. In this category, the United States and Australia tied for fourth place. Ireland scored the highest in this ranking, followed by Switzerland and the Netherlands.
America earned the top score for affordability of food. The volatility of food price inflation was a major consideration for scores in this category as well. Some in the US, of course, would disagree with America’s score in this category. After all, processed frozen food and non-organic meat and produce are staples in poor rural areas and in food desert areas, meaning that access to non-GMO and all-natural food products often involves growing it yourself or paying top dollar at an out-of-the-way supermarket.
Saudi Arabia scored the worst on the unhealthy eating scale. Kuwait had the bottom score in the obesity column.
The stated goal of the report was to create a snapshot of the most recent and pertinent worldwide statistics on food challenges, food conditions, and ways to combat obstacles to obtaining affordable healthy food.
“The looming squeeze on natural resources, particularly land and water, and the gathering pace of climate change are set to make this worse,” the report stated.
The document went on to state that one in eight people go to sleep each night hungry, even though there is enough food to sustain the masses. The misuse of resources, overconsumption, and waste were the noted common elements posing problems for food systems in nations around the world.
Are you surprised that America’s food system ranked so low? Let us know in the comments section below.