The pace of progress in halving the number of children who are stunted and in reducing the number of babies born with low birth weight is too slow, according to the report, fao.org wrote.
At the same time, adding to these challenges, overweight and obesity continue to increase in all regions, particularly among school-age children and adults.
The chances of being food insecure are higher for women than men in every continent, with the largest gap in Latin America.
"Our actions to tackle these troubling trends will have to be bolder, not only in scale but also in terms of multisectoral collaboration," the heads of the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) urged in their joint foreword to the report.
Hunger is increasing in many countries where economic growth is lagging, particularly in middle-income countries and those that rely heavily on international primary commodity trade. The annual UN report also found that income inequality is rising in many of the countries where hunger is on the rise, making it even more difficult for the poor, vulnerable or marginalized to cope with economic slowdowns and downturns.
The situation is most alarming in Africa, as the region has the highest rates of hunger in the world and which are continuing to slowly but steadily rise in almost all subregions. In Eastern Africa, in particular, close to a third of the population (30.8 percent) is undernourished. In addition to climate and conflict, economic slowdowns and downturns are driving the rise. Since 2011, almost half the countries where rising hunger occurred due to economic slowdowns or stagnation were in Africa.
The largest number of undernourished people (more than 500 million) live in Asia, mostly in southern Asian countries. Together, Africa and Asia bear the greatest share of all forms of malnutrition, as asserted in this year’s The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report.
In addition to the challenges of stunting and wasting, Asia and Africa are also home to nearly three-quarters of all overweight children worldwide, largely driven by consumption of unhealthy diets.
The report estimates that over two billion people, mostly in low- and middle-income countries, do not have regular access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food. But irregular access is also a challenge for high-income countries, including eight percent of the population in Northern America and Europe.