Global Nutrition and Health: Analysis of Argentina
1. Typical Agricultural Practices
Argentina lies in the South American continent. It is still considered a developing country; however, Argentina is one of the leading countries in terms of agricultural products. According to OECD Directory of Trade and Agriculture, Ken Ash, Argentina is one of the key players in the global agricultural markets and has a potential to enhance its productivity growth sustainably (OECD, 2019). Over the past three decades, factors such as stable international prices, extensive arable land, and well-educated farmers have contributed to the remarkable growth of the country’s agri-food sector (OECD, 2019). They produce one of the leading global producers such as soybeans, sunflower seed oil, lemons, beef, and honey. The main products available for consumption include sugar cane, milk, soybeans, which have helped to reduce the rate of undernourishment to less than 5 per cent between 2014 and 2016 (FAO, 2017). Other products available for consumption are grapefruits, oranges, vegetables, mandarins in Buenos Aires. Also, due to the prevalence of the foot-and-mouth disease in the 1990s, Argentine beef has suffered ban in major markets leading to decreased exports and increased local consumption of meat (Donghi et al., 2019, p.21).
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Wheat and cons are the main crops that are highly harvested in the areas where livestock farming is high such as La Pampa and Pampas of Buenos Aire's territories and in the north. These crops are edible and valuable for export still; they are mainly produced to feed the livestock. As a result, this makes Pampas the traditional primary source of beef cattle, which is the most valuable export in the country (Donghi et al., 2019, p.20). Other crops that are grown in the Pampas region include sorghum, soybeans, and flax, but they are ranked behind corn and wheat (Donghi et al., 2019, p.20). Grapes are also leading and native crops that are produced in Northwest regions, which contributes to 90 per cent of grapes planted in the country. In the warmer areas of these provinces, they grow sugarcane, and citrus orchards. While grapes are used for making wine, sugarcane and citrus orchards are used as substitutes for sugar and hence mitigating the volatility risks in the sugar market (Donghi et al., 2019, p.20).
2. Indicators of Wealth and Health
In 2018, Argentina suffered an economic recession because of the factors such as capital inflow reversals and currency inflow slowdown due to a record drought in the country (OECD2, 2019, p.2). As a result, this has led to a decrease of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP current) from US$642.7 billion in 2017 to US$518.5 billion in 2018 (The World Bank Group, 2019). As a result, with a total population of 44,494,502 in 2018, the GDP per capita annual growth decreased by 3.5 per cent and hence indicating a deteriorating state of the standard of living in the country (The World Bank Group, 2019). This means that the GDP per capita decreased from US$14,591.86 to US$11,652.57 from 2017 to 2018, respectively (The World Bank Group, 2019). Besides, a significant number of Argentinians live in poverty. According to OECD2 (2019, p.3), approximately 27 per cent of residents live in poverty, while 5 per cent lives in extreme poverty with the 2018 recession estimated to deteriorate the situation further. However, the national poverty headcount ratio has significantly declined from 30.3 per cent in 2016 to 25.7 per cent in 2017 (The World Bank Group, 2019).
Infant Mortality: The number of infant deaths has significantly declined in the last ten years. For instance, the infant mortality in 2008 was 10185 deaths but, fell over the years to 6,934 deaths in 2018 (The World Bank Group, 2019).
Maternal Mortality: In Argentina, the number of maternal deaths decreased from 420 deaths in 2008 to 390 deaths in 2015. The national estimate for maternal mortality ratio is 32.4 as per 2015 statistics. On the other hand, the lifetime risk for maternal death is 0.13 per cent as per 2015 statistics (The World Bank Group, 2019).
Life expectancy: As per 2017 statistics, the life expectancy at birth for male was 72.96 years, while that for females was 80.44. The total life expectancy at birth is 76.74 years, which is higher than in many countries in South America. High life expectancy and low infant and maternal mortality have been the result of the vast numbers of health facilities in Argentina. Also, low cost of medical care due to various occupational insurance plans and control of diseases such as cholera, smallpox, tuberculosis, and yellow fever has contributed significantly to better health indicators in the country (Donghi et al., 2019, p.29).
3. Key nutrition-related issues
i. Nutritional deficiencies
Although there, I was not able to find data that shows supplementation of Vitamin A and consumption of iodized salt, the prevalence of diseases related to nutritional deficiencies illustrates that the country is affected by dietary deficiencies. For example, the rate of anaemia among pregnant women, non-pregnant women, women of reproductive age, and children in 2016 was 28.5%, 18.2%, 18.6%, and 22.2% respectively. Besides, Goetz and Valeggia (2016) conducted a study among 153 women in northern Argentina and revealed that 28 percent and 31 percent were anaemic and borderline anaemic, respectively. The study also found a negative correlation between the prevalence of anaemia and the consumption of vitamin C and Iron. For instance, "Women who consumed more iron and women who consumed more vitamin C in the past day were less likely to be anaemic than those who consumed less iron and those who consumed less vitamin C” (Goetz & Valeggia, 2016, p.4). This illustrates that nutritional deficiency of Vitamin C and Iron is a severe problem among women in Argentina.
In a country that is among the largest producers of beef, protein consumption is expected to be high, indicating low chances of starvation. However, in 2005, the prevalence of stunting among children under five years was 8.2 per cent (The World Bank Group, 2019). Also, in 2016, the population of individuals experiencing undernourishment was 3.8 percent (The World Bank Group, 2019). This illustrates that malnutrition is not a severe problem in Argentina.
In Argentina, overweight and obesity are growing concerns with more than two-thirds of the population. According to a report by the Fundación Interamericana del Corazón (FIC), around 66.1 percent of the adult population in the country are overweight (Shoup, 2019). The report suggests that 33.1 percent of this population are overweight, while 32.4 percent are obese (Shoup, 2019). This is because of the low intake of greens and fruits, in which only 6% of Argentinians meets the daily recommendation on the consumption of vegetables and fruits.
The most current record for breastfeeding shows that breastfeeding for children below six months is 32 percent in 2012. However, this was a significant decline from the previous year in which the exclusive breastfeeding was 52 percent (The World Bank Group, 2019).
v. Food Insecurity
In Argentina, the food security issue has prevailed despite the measures employed by the government and the favourable food production index of 129.11 in 2016 (The World Bank Group, 2019). According to Pellettieri (2018, p.3), the food insecurity issues began in 2002, when the country announced a food emergence. Later in 2015, about 12.3 percent of the population was not guaranteed for adequate nutrient 2016, the cost of food in areas such as Buenos Aires hiked by 27 percent (Pellettieri, 2018, p.5). However, statistic shows that Argentina has excess food, but a massive amount of food goes into waste. For instance, discarded food in 2016 was approximately 9,500 tons (Pellettieri, 2018, p.4). Another reason that may help to explain the food insecurity issue in Argentina is the predominance of poverty.
After this research, I believe that Argentina needs to change food habit not only to mitigate the food insecurity issue but also reduce the prevalence of conditions such as obesity. For example, societies should join hands in reducing the consumption of fatty oil and sodium salt. Besides, since the daily use of vegetables and fruits is low, nutritionists should create awareness and education programs to help Argentinians understand the importance of such food. Nutritionists and other stakeholders should also advocate and campaign for reduced salt intake to achieve the World Health Organization's recommendation of 5 grams daily (Shoup, 2019, p.2). Since there is a correlation between food accessibility and poverty level, the Argentinian government and other stakeholders should employ extensive poverty elimination programs. Such a plan should aim at increasing the minimum wage, creating employment, and financing agricultural programs, among others.
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In addition, to reduce nutritional deficiencies among children and women in the country, the government should support research and development to help increase the micronutrient content in raw materials and food. It is also essential to increase supplementation of vitamin C and consumption of iodized salt. Iron-rich foods that may be encouraged include fortified breakfast cereals, shellfish, liver, beans, spinach, broccoli, lean meats, and nuts, among others.
Argentinian government and other stakeholders should extend the programs for reducing food wastage in all corners of the country. The Ministry of Agriculture should broaden their training for local government, residents, and food producers to develop effective ways of reducing food waste. Such training should entail planning, checking the use-by dates, reducing over-buying, and adequate food storage mechanisms.
- Donghi, T. H., Calvert, P. A., & Eidt, R. C. (2019). Argentina. In Encyclopedia Britannica (pp. 19-29). Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/place/Argentina
- FAO. (2017). Country Fact Sheet on Food and Agriculture Policy Trends: Argentina (I7752EN/1/08.17). Retrieved from Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States website: http://www.fao.org
- Goetz, L. G., & Valeggia, C. (2016). The ecology of anaemia: Anemia prevalence and correlated factors in adult indigenous women in Argentina. American Journal of Human Biology, 29(3), 1-6.
- OECD. (2019). Argentina’s agro-food sector is growing remarkably, but agriculture policies are not keeping pace. Retrieved from Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development website: https://www.oecd.org/agriculture/news/argentina-s-agro-food-sector-is-growing-remarkably-but-agriculture-policies-are-not-keeping-pace-new-oecd-report-finds.htm
- OECD2. (2019). OECD Economic Surveys: Argentina. Retrieved from Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Retrieved from:
- Pellettieri, L. (2018). Food insecurity rising in Argentina, sparking protest and food-emergency bill. Global Press Journal. Retrieved from https://www.pri.org/stories/2018-06-20/food-insecurity-rising-argentina-sparking-protest-and-food-emergency-bill
- Shoup, M. E. (2019, May 4). Obesity rates in Argentina on the rise as health organization calls for improved national food and nutrition policies. Retrieved from https://www.foodnavigator-latam.com/Article/2019/05/04/Obesity-rates-in-Argentina-on-the-rise-as-health-organization-calls-for-improved-national-food-and-nutrition-policies
- The World Bank Group. (2019). Argentina. Retrieved from https://data.worldbank.org/country/argentina
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