Category Archives: Health

Good news: hunger dramatically reduced in Brazil

Photo by Gabriel Rocha/ Flickr

The anti-poverty agency ActionAid released yesterday a report that alerts to the growing risks for the world food security, due to global warming, depleted natural resources and raising food prices. But the document also praises Brazil for being the best prepared to face these challenges among 28 developing nations examined by the organization. The country leads this ranking for the third time.

The report “On the brink: Who’s best prepared for a climate and hunger crisis?” evaluates that Brazil’s investment in small family agriculture and official programs such as Fome Zero (Zero Hunger), to minimize misery levels, paid off. The country reduced child malnutrition by 73% and child deaths by 45% between 2002 and 2008. But it still has to face the fact that 16 million Brazilians leave in extreme poverty (with a 70 reais/40 dollars  monthly budget).

According to the study:

Brazil is leader of the pack in the Hunger scorecard again this year. It has announced US$10 billion of support for smallholder farmers who have benefited from land reform committed in 2011. The government has also extended its genuinely women focused Bolsa Família social protection safety net to 12.4 million poor families and enshrined the right to food into its constitution Just as importantly, it has instated a robust policy of ensuring the country’s agriculture is climate ready, with a national plan dedicated to the agricultural sector.

On the other hand, ActionAid criticized the inequality in land distribution.

Around 3.5% of landowners hold 56% of arable land, while the poorest 40% own barely 1%. Similarly, large landowners obtain more than 43% of all agricultural credit, while farmers with fewerthan 100 ha (88% of the total number of all rural farms) captured only 30%.


Brazilian diet: what is the country eating?

Photo by Rodrigo Paoletti/ Flickr

Too much sugar, too much salt, lots of food with low nutritious value and three daily cups of coffee. That is on the table of Brazilians, according to a study just released by IBGE, the federal statistics bureau. Even if the balanced and healthy traditional rice-bean-meat menu is still prevalent, the country needs to reconsider its diet. According to IBGE:

The ingestion of some components of a healthy diet, such as rice, beans, fresh fish and cassava flour, decreases as the per capita family income increases.  In opposition, the consumption of pizza, fried snacks, sweets and soft drinks rises.  The ingestion of fruits, vegetables and diet/light dairy products also increases in this income range.

Each Brazilian consumes, in average (in grams per day)*:

Here are some of the main conclusions of this study, based on 34 thousand interviews made in 2008 and 2009: Continue reading Brazilian diet: what is the country eating?

Tools to compare São Paulo to foreign metropolis

São Paulo has one of the best carbon footprints and great weather – but also the highest criminality and the worst entrepreneurial environment. This is how the Brazilian mega city is portrayed by Cities of Opportunity, a study just published by PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of the biggest accountancy companies in the world. It compares the economic/social/cultural performance of 26 metropolis for 10 major indicators, from innovation to climate, from cost to livability. It is pretty useful for those moving or doing business in one of these urban centers, having to figure what opportunities and challenges they will have to face.

One of the coolest features of the project is Model your City. It allows you to pick the cities and 66 indicators of your choice to build a comparative chart. You can also download the whole document. It is pretty simple to read: the higher the number of points a city has for a certain indicator (between 1 and 26), the better.

São Paulo’s depiction is not exactly kind. In fact it is one of the bottom three, just above Johannesburg and Mumbai, with a little under half the points gathered by New York, that heads the list. Continue reading Tools to compare São Paulo to foreign metropolis

Elizabeth Bishop in Brazil

Elizabeth Bishop, the American poet that would be a 100 this week, arrived in Rio when she was 40. And Rio changed her life.

She was supposed to stay for two weeks – that became 15 years. After moving to an apartment overseeing Copacabana beach, Bishop fell in love with carioca socialite Lota de Macedo Soares, the architect responsible for the design of Parque do Flamengo. There, Elizabeth wrote some of her best poems and translated books by Carlos Drummond de Andrade and João Cabral de Melo Neto. About Drummond, she said: “I didn’t know him at all. He’s supposed to be very shy. I’m supposed to be very shy. We’ve met once — on the sidewalk at night. We had just come out of the same restaurant, and he kissed my hand politely when we were introduced.”

In 1956, during her Rio phase, she won the  Pullitzer prize for a collection of her poetry. Later, she moved to Petrópolis (once the royal retreat and, more recently, one of the cities in the state of Rio affected by heavy floods) and also to historic Ouro Preto, in Minas Gerais. Finally, in the late sixties, she decided to return to the US (and was followed by Lota, who committed suicide a few days later). Back home, Elizabeth Bishop became a Harvard and MIT professor.

Always analytic, not always kind, Bishop comments on Brazilian ethnicity and racial relations at the time: Continue reading Elizabeth Bishop in Brazil

Brazilians only adopt healthy, white babies

”]Brazilian adopting parents impose many more restrictions than foreigners, according to an article published this week by Agência Estado.

Quoting data from the Tribunal of Justice of the state of São Paulo, the news agency says that almost all of the Brazilian couples refuse to adopt children that are black, native or that have mixed blood, while 77% of the foreigners that come to the country willing to adopt are indifferent to the kid’s ethnicity. Continue reading Brazilians only adopt healthy, white babies

Millenium goals on the way

Brazil is well positioned to achieve the Millennium Goals – the eight development objectives that the United Nations member states are supposed to attain till 2015. The federal government just released the fourth annual report detailing the country’s progress and the results are definitely encouraging.

Among its main conclusions (to make this easier on your brain, green indicates good news;  orange, neutral. No item was fully bad, according to the report):

Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

Around 25.6% of the Brazilian population lived on less than $1 a day in 1990. The target for 2015 is 12.8%, but this number was down to 4.8% in 2008.

In 1996, 4.2% of the children were underweight. The target for 2015 is 2.1%, but the most recent statistics (2006) indicate that  hunger is now affecting 1.8% of this population.

Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education

  • Around 95% of the Brazilian kids between 7 and 14 years old are enrolled in schools.

Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women

  • For every 100 boys studying, there are 93.8 girls (in primary education) and 133.2 (in secondary education).

Goal 4: Reduce child mortality

  • In 1990, there were 53.7 deaths of children under five per thousand babies born alive. In 2008, this number was down to 22.8. The 2015 target is 17.9.

Continue reading Millenium goals on the way

Healthier Brazilians

IBGE, the Brazilian bureau of statistics, released today the 2008 edition of its Pesquisa Nacional por Amostra de Domicílios (Pnad), a reduced version of the census. In my latest post I quoted an economist who, based on this report’s data, concluded that Blacks have consistently improved their financial situation in the last 15 years. The statistics published today highlight the state of the country’s health.

These are the main conclusions:

  • 77.3% of the interviewees consider themselves healthy or very healthy (this percentage is higher in the upper classes). Only 3.8% said their health was bad or very bad.
  • On the other hand, 11.2 million people over 14 informed they have physical limitations. For them, it is difficult to walk 100 meters (328 feet) or to go to the bathroom by themselves. This is a slightly growing trend that affects 7.5% of all men and 9.1% of women. Among the elder population, 27% face that type of restriction. Continue reading Healthier Brazilians

Less undernourished, more overweight

Brazilian women stay slim, while men are getting fatter and fatter. Mal-nutrition and child mortality are falling, but diabetes is on the raise.

Brazilian health report
Campaign in Olinda, Pernambuco, against kidney diseases

This is one of the conclusions of a study released today by the Brazilian Health Ministry, portraying the state of the population’s physical condition.
The conclusions are, for the most part, positive. Here, a quick summary of the main conclusions:
• Weight – Around 43% of those over 18 living in state capitals are overweight. The reality in smaller cities and in the countryside is similar. The Ministry blames unhealthy eating habits and the reduction in physical activities. Boys from 10 to 19 years-old increased their Body Mass Index in 82.2% in only 29 years. The girls of the same age had a growth of 70.3% in their BMI. The good news: women kept their weight stable since the 90s. Obesity is specially intense among poorest populations.
• Height – Brazilians are growing fast – women twice as fast as men. The average male raised 1.9 centimeters (0.75 inches) and is, in average, 1.70 meters (5.57 feet) tall. The average woman grew 3,3 centimeters (1.29 inches) to 1.58 meters ( 5.18 feet).
• Diabetes – The growth of obesity is raising the number of deaths of diabetes, mainly among men older than 40. On the other hand, less women under 20 and 39 are diabetic.
• Cardiovascular health– Less Brazilians are dying of heart diseases. It fell 20.5% between 1990 and 2006. The Health Ministry believes this is because the population is more educated and there is a growing effort to prevent those diseases.
• Mal-nutrition – The number of undernourished kids under five fell 50% in  in 10 years – from 13.4% of the total to 6.7%, in 2006. According to the Health Ministry, mal-nutrition might be totally eliminated in Brazil in a period of 10 or 15 years.
• Diarrhea – The number of kids under one year old that die of diarrhea – normally related to the fact part of the population doesn’t have access to treated water and is exposed to uncollected sewage – fell 93.9% in 25 years. It used to be the second main cause of infant mortality in the country. Now it is the fourth (most deaths are associated to congenital diseases or postpartum problems). In 1990, the index of child mortality used to be 47.1 deaths per thousand babies born alive. In 2007, it was around 19.3 deaths – a reduction of 59,7%.

This is a very interesting evolution. Nevertheless, it is hard to understand how the cardiovascular diseases were controlled, while overweight and diabetes are not. Could you come up with some logical explanation?