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French second best in world for healthy diet

Joshua Melvin · 16 Jan 2014, 09:32

Published: 16 Jan 2014 09:32 GMT+01:00

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The French pride themselves on their healthy and balanced diet but it is not quite good enough to see them top the rankings as the best place in the world to eat.

Absurd, some might say but according to Oxfam’s new global food index titled "Good Enough to Eat",released on Wednesday, the Netherlands actually has the best quality of food, beating France into joint second place with Switzerland.

The survey was not however based on the quality of oysters, foie gras and wine, but on the availability of a healthy, plentiful and affordable diet.

European countries dominated the top of the rankings but Australia made it into the top 10, to tie with Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Luxembourg at number 8. The United Kingdom was tied at 13th on the index of 125 countries, scoring badly due to the volatility of food prices.

“Poverty and inequality are the real drivers of hunger. Hunger happens where governance is poor, distribution weak, when markets fail,” Oxfam International Executive Director Winnie Byanyima said in a statement. “Having sufficient healthy and affordable food is not something that much of the world enjoys.”

The index was based on how affordable, available and of what quality food and dietary health is in each of the nations. It also weighed up the percentage of malnourished children, the diversity of food as well as food-related health problems like diabetes and obesity.

Oxfam looked at four main criteria: Do people have enough to eat? Can they afford to eat? Is the food of good quality? and What are the results of unhealthy diets?

The United States and Canada fell just outside the top 20, at numbers 21 and 25 respectively. While the U.S. has the most stable food supply in the world, unhealthy eating habits pushed it down the index.

THe bottom 30 places in the rankingswere occupied by African countries.

Oxfam researchers gave the top spot to the Netherlands because food is relatively low cost there and diabetes is less common. Chad wound up at the bottom of the list because of its high food prices and an elevated number of malnourished children.

Reuters reported the index figures shows, despite there being enough food, 840 million people go hungry each day. Oxfam said the world food production and distribution system is due for a major overhaul.

Story continues below…

Oxfam’s data came from October and December 2013 using the latest information from the World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Foundation, the International Labour Organization and other international organizations, Reuters reported.

Whether the French maintain their love of a healthy and balanced diet is questionable. The Local reported last year how fast food sales in France had outstripped the sales of traditional restaurant meals.

Joshua Melvin (joshua.melvin@thelocal.com)

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