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      Climate Change and Global Food Systems: Potential Impacts on Food Security and Undernutrition

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          Abstract

          Great progress has been made in addressing global undernutrition over the past several decades, in part because of large increases in food production from agricultural expansion and intensification. Food systems, however, face continued increases in demand and growing environmental pressures. Most prominently, human-caused climate change will influence the quality and quantity of food we produce and our ability to distribute it equitably. Our capacity to ensure food security and nutritional adequacy in the face of rapidly changing biophysical conditions will be a major determinant of the next century's global burden of disease. In this article, we review the main pathways by which climate change may affect our food production systems—agriculture, fisheries, and livestock—as well as the socioeconomic forces that may influence equitable distribution.

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          Most cited references 112

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          A globally coherent fingerprint of climate change impacts across natural systems.

          Causal attribution of recent biological trends to climate change is complicated because non-climatic influences dominate local, short-term biological changes. Any underlying signal from climate change is likely to be revealed by analyses that seek systematic trends across diverse species and geographic regions; however, debates within the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reveal several definitions of a 'systematic trend'. Here, we explore these differences, apply diverse analyses to more than 1,700 species, and show that recent biological trends match climate change predictions. Global meta-analyses documented significant range shifts averaging 6.1 km per decade towards the poles (or metres per decade upward), and significant mean advancement of spring events by 2.3 days per decade. We define a diagnostic fingerprint of temporal and spatial 'sign-switching' responses uniquely predicted by twentieth century climate trends. Among appropriate long-term/large-scale/multi-species data sets, this diagnostic fingerprint was found for 279 species. This suite of analyses generates 'very high confidence' (as laid down by the IPCC) that climate change is already affecting living systems.
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            Maternal and child undernutrition and overweight in low-income and middle-income countries.

            Maternal and child malnutrition in low-income and middle-income countries encompasses both undernutrition and a growing problem with overweight and obesity. Low body-mass index, indicative of maternal undernutrition, has declined somewhat in the past two decades but continues to be prevalent in Asia and Africa. Prevalence of maternal overweight has had a steady increase since 1980 and exceeds that of underweight in all regions. Prevalence of stunting of linear growth of children younger than 5 years has decreased during the past two decades, but is higher in south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa than elsewhere and globally affected at least 165 million children in 2011; wasting affected at least 52 million children. Deficiencies of vitamin A and zinc result in deaths; deficiencies of iodine and iron, together with stunting, can contribute to children not reaching their developmental potential. Maternal undernutrition contributes to fetal growth restriction, which increases the risk of neonatal deaths and, for survivors, of stunting by 2 years of age. Suboptimum breastfeeding results in an increased risk for mortality in the first 2 years of life. We estimate that undernutrition in the aggregate--including fetal growth restriction, stunting, wasting, and deficiencies of vitamin A and zinc along with suboptimum breastfeeding--is a cause of 3·1 million child deaths annually or 45% of all child deaths in 2011. Maternal overweight and obesity result in increased maternal morbidity and infant mortality. Childhood overweight is becoming an increasingly important contributor to adult obesity, diabetes, and non-communicable diseases. The high present and future disease burden caused by malnutrition in women of reproductive age, pregnancy, and children in the first 2 years of life should lead to interventions focused on these groups. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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              Solutions for a cultivated planet.

              Increasing population and consumption are placing unprecedented demands on agriculture and natural resources. Today, approximately a billion people are chronically malnourished while our agricultural systems are concurrently degrading land, water, biodiversity and climate on a global scale. To meet the world's future food security and sustainability needs, food production must grow substantially while, at the same time, agriculture's environmental footprint must shrink dramatically. Here we analyse solutions to this dilemma, showing that tremendous progress could be made by halting agricultural expansion, closing 'yield gaps' on underperforming lands, increasing cropping efficiency, shifting diets and reducing waste. Together, these strategies could double food production while greatly reducing the environmental impacts of agriculture.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Annual Review of Public Health
                Annu. Rev. Public Health
                Annual Reviews
                0163-7525
                1545-2093
                March 20 2017
                March 20 2017
                : 38
                : 1
                : 259-277
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Environmental Health, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts 02115;, , ,
                [2 ]Harvard University Center for the Environment, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138;
                [3 ]Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138;,
                [4 ]Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
                [5 ]Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London WC1E 7HT, United Kingdom;
                Article
                10.1146/annurev-publhealth-031816-044356
                28125383
                © 2017

                https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/

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