By Emily Wilkins - January 16, 2014
Cambodia was ranked the best country in the world for healthy eating habits due to its low rates of diabetes and obesity, according to a report released Wednesday by Oxfam International.
However, the report, which ranks food health and availability across the world, emphasizes that Cambodia’s top ranking is nothing to celebrate, as its healthy diet is directly linked to food scarcity.
When Cambodia’s score on healthy eating was combined with its scores for adequacy of nutrition and percentage of underweight children, Cambodia dropped from first place to 74th in Oxfam’s ranking.
“What’s clear is that the amount of food available is far more of a priority concern for the country,” said Lucy Brinicombe, senior press officer for Oxfam.
About 15.4 percent of Cambodia’s population is undernourished and 29 percent of children are underweight, the Oxfam report says.
The report measured countries on two additional criteria: affordability and food quality. Based on all measures, Cambodia ranked 88th, on par with Cameroon and Guinea-Bissau.
While diabetes and obesity are still low in Cambodia, they might be set to rise, said Maurits van Pelt, director of MoPoTsyo Patient Information Center, a local NGO that screens for diabetes.
Mr. van Pelt said he has seen an increase in consumption of sugary drinks among Cambodia’s youth and a decrease in the amount of exercise Cambodians of all ages get, due to mechanization of farming and more sedentary jobs available.
“Cambodians are quickly becoming heavier and more and more obese,” he said. “But [diabetes] is still relatively small.”