Pope to Take Part in U.N. Food Conference

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Pope Francis will take part in an international conference on nutrition hosted by the U.N. food agency and the World Health Organisation in Rome in November, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said on Wednesday.

FAO chief Jose Graziano da Silva in a statement praised the Argentine pope’s “commitment to the future we want”.

The Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) follows one held in 1992 and is aimed at bringing together world leaders to find “new ways to boost national and global efforts that improve diets and health”, FAO said.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is also expected, FAO said, along with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete.

The Rome-based food agency said that 842 million people in the world were chronically hungry but “many more die or suffer the ill effects of inadequate nutrition”.

FAO and the WHO estimates 162 million children under the age of five are stunted while at the same time 500 million people are obese due to unhealthy diets.

In a message for World Food Day in October 2013, Pope Francis called for solidarity and an end to indifference to the plight of the hungry.

“It is a scandal that there is still hunger and malnutrition in the world,” the pope said, adding: “Something has to change in ourselves, in our mindsets and in our societies”.

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