This file photo dated June 10, 2022 shows a man shopping for vegetables at a market in Colombo, Sri Lanka. (PHOTO / AP)
ROME – New data released Wednesday by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) shows that while billions of people around the world cannot afford a healthy diet, the cost of such a diet varies significantly between regions.
The agency, headquartered in Rome, based its findings on research carried out by the World Bank and US-based Tufts University, as well as its own internal analyses.
In a statement, FAO said the report "serves as a reminder that even if the world has made progress towards providing enough calories to feed the global population, there remains a long road ahead to sustainably nourishing all people."
But the cost of a healthy diet is not the only relevant factor, the FAO said, noting that in 12 African countries a healthy diet was beyond the reach of 90 percent of the population
The report shows that a healthy diet cost the most in Latin America and the Caribbean at $3.89 per person per day in 2020, with Asia a close second at $3.72. In Africa, the cost of a healthy diet was lower at $3.46 per person per day, followed by North America and Europe at $3.19 and Oceania at $3.07.
READ MORE: FAO: World food prices decline for 10th month running in Jan
In the year leading up to the findings, Asia saw the biggest increase — 4 percent — in the cost of a healthy diet. In Africa, the increase was the smallest, only 2.5 percent.
But the cost of a healthy diet is not the only relevant factor, the FAO said, noting that in 12 African countries a healthy diet was beyond the reach of 90 percent of the population. In 53 countries, that was the case for at least half of the population, while in 26 countries no more than 1 percent of the population could not regularly afford a healthy diet.
READ MORE: FAO: 2022 food import costs hit record, poorest threatened
According to the FAO's "State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2022" report published last year, nearly 3.1 billion people could not afford a healthy diet in 2020. That is an increase of 112 million people compared to the previous year.