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World Nutrition

World Nutrition

Author: Jensen Morgan

This lesson discusses world nutrition and food supplies.

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Hi, I'm Jensen Morgan. We're going to talk about some great concepts in environmental science. Today's topic is world nutrition. So let's get started.

We're going to talk about world nutrition, what affects it, and how it can be improved. Global nutrition and food availability is strongly affected by three factors. The first is politics. Political disputes and wars can prevent certain regions and countries from having access to food. Second is economics. Some countries require technology that they cannot afford in order to produce enough food for their citizens. Finally, the environment of a region can affect how much nutritious food is available. Certain regions are more resistance to negative impacts while some are more productive due to the climate.

This means every region has different challenges to overcome to provide enough nutritious food for its people. It is important to note that as much as 25% of the world does not get enough quantity or variety of nutritious foods in their diet. In other words, about 25% of the world population is malnourished or undernourished.

The majority of malnourished and undernourished people live in sub-Saharan Africa, east, south, and southeast Asia, as well as certain parts of Latin America. A primary cause of such widespread malnourishment is something called famine where a particular area cannot provide or import an sufficient supply of food. Famines can have a number of causes, such as drought, flooding, fires, pests, political economic instability, or rapid population growth. Famines are most often caused by distribution issues due to environmental and political causes, but can also be created when the demand for food simply exceeds the supply.

In the last decade, two significant famines have occurred in Africa, one of environmental causes and the other, political. Between 2011 and 2012, a major drought struck the Northeastern horn of Africa, affecting 9.5 million people in four different countries. Many people had to emigrate because their livelihoods were impossible to continue during the drought.

The effects of the second Congo war went on years after its end, and while the exact death toll is disputed, it is speculated to have killed between 2.8 and 5.4 million people, many of which died from the famine the war caused.

It is possible to improve the state of world nutrition and food availability, and today we're going to talk about five main categories. Water is often a precious and expensive resource when it comes to growing food and hydrating livestock. Technologies like drip irrigation allow people to use water much more efficiently, increasing productivity and cutting cost. Drip irrigation, just as the name implies, is designed to slowly drip water at the base of a plant to minimize waste.

Other technologies, like the water pump, allow people to divert water from underground or far away and bring it to places where it's needed. Despite the benefits, technologies such as these are not always feasible because of cost and water availability in the area.

Land availability is another pathway to improving world nutrition. Our key term for today is arable land, which is land that can be used for growing crops. Without enough arable land, it can be difficult to provide enough nutritious food. Therefore, is important to transform currently unusable land into arable land by adding nutrients and repurposing that land.

There can be challenges to this process due to cost, or because the only land available is forest land in danger of deforestation, just to provide more food. Eating lower on the food chain is another method to improving nutrition and food availability. An example of this would be eating potatoes instead of beef. Meat requires far more hectares of land than vegetables to produce the same number of calories.

For example, beef requires 100 times more land than potatoes for the same number of calories. A possible route to doing this would be converting grazing land to cropland, creating more co-ops and urban farms, growing veggies in our backyards. However, not all grazing land can be converted to cropland.

It is also possible to improve the way we distribute food. Currently, there is enough food on the planet to feed everyone on Earth, but at least 25% of the planet is malnourished. This is primarily because we don't have proper distribution systems. Certain places have the famine while others have a surplus. Sometimes a region might even have enough food, but not enough diversity for a proper diet. Barriers are usually the result of politics, cost of redistribution, or war.

Being able to improve the resilience and productivity of crops can have a huge impact on providing enough nutritious food. One of the ways this can be done is by employing genetically modified crops, also called GMOs, which have been created to survive better and have a bigger yield. As a result of the green revolution, there's a growing dependence on pesticides. Certain GMOs even have pesticides bred into them.

GMOs, however, are a controversial topic in certain circles. It is argued that they are highly energy-intensive, creating a large amount of greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to climate change, while still others state that GMOs pose certain legal problems as companies try to patent genetic material that they breed. There are strong supporters and criticizers on both sides.

Now let's have a recap. Worldwide nutrition and food availability varies dramatically as a result of environmental, political, and economic causes. Famine is a global issue and has numerous causes. It can result in millions of people being malnourished and undernourished due to war, drought, or other reasons.

There are a number of ways to improve world nutrition, which include five main areas. Water technology, arable land availability, eating lower on the food chain, improving food distribution, and improving crops' resilience and yield. And don't forget our key term for today, arable land. Arable land is land that can be used for growing crops.

Well, that's it for now. I hope these concepts have been helpful, and I look forward to seeing you next time. Bye.