—New demographic and health surveys that measure people’s height. FAO had been relying on 20-year-old World Health Organization statistics to determine how many calories were needed based on body mass, with taller people requiring more calories than shorter ones. For the 2012 report, FAO is using new height surveys to determine caloric requirements.
‘‘What we are saying is we are recalculating everything with new data, improved data, and what we believe to be an improved methodology,’’ said Jomo, the assistant director-general.
That said, he stressed that all hunger estimates by their nature are conservative. FAO’s caloric requirements, for example, assume a sedentary lifestyle, even though many of the world’s hungry often do strenuous manual labor, thus requiring more calories to meet their food needs.
Oddly enough, with the new number-crunching methods, FAO discovered that the world’s hungry actually did hit the 1 billion mark, but it was back in 1990-1992. The world just didn’t know it then because the FAO was using the old data that set the hungry figure for that period at 848.4 million.
The advocacy group Oxfam said the slowdown in progress in lifting people out of hunger over the past five years should ‘‘sound alarm bells around the globe.’’
‘‘The fact that almost 870 million people — more than the population of the U.S., Europe, and Canada — are hungry in a world which produces enough for everyone to eat is the biggest scandal of our time,’’ Oxfam’s Luca Chinotti said in a statement.
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