The bones of Venezuelan people are lacking calcium. For most part of the Venezuelan population, foods such as milk and cheese have disappeared from their tables. According to the Latin American Study of Nutrition and Health (ELANS 2015), 87.8% of respondents admitted they did not eat those two food items; but the most serious case is represented by women, as they showed a 92.9% deficit.

Pablo Hernández, nutritionist-dietician and researcher at the Venezuelan Observatory of Health (OVS), also revealed that, overall, the Venezuelan population has an inadequate calorie(energy) intake. “We are talking about 1,925 kilocalories (Kcal), that means, under the 2,300 kilocalories established by the National Poll of Food Consumption made by the National Institute of Statistics (INE), as a national reference.”

No one escapes from this situation, as it has had an impact on all social strata. The most privileged people are still eating the same proteins, but they are reducing the amounts they eat. The least favored people are suffering the most critical situation, as they have reduced their calorie intake.

Venezuelans in the lowest stratum consume less calories (1,922), compared to the medium (1,978) and high strata (2,076).

Vitamin and mineral deficiencies 

Hernández, who is also a professor of Human Nutrition at the Central University of Venezuela (UCV), explained that the study also found that food adequacy, intake, and requirements were way below the level the body needs. “Nearly 80% of the population has a calorie deficit, and calories are essential to accomplish daily activities,” he asserted.

According to the ELANS 2015 study, an iron deficit was also noted, especially among women, with a 42.2% deficit, which can result in anemia. There is also a 47% deficit of vitamin A, which is an important factor for a good eyesight, reproduction, and lactation, and it contributes to the formation and maintenance of the teeth, soft tissues, and bones.

Daily meals

The expert noted that 22% of Venezuelans only have two or less main meals a day. “Not everyone is eating as many times as necessary to maintain the minimal functions,” he asserted.

This data is inconsistent with the Living Conditions Survey (Encovi) conducted in 2015, which reported that almost three and a half million people in Venezuela (11%) do not eat three meals a day. It seems that the ELANS survey reveals even more alarming figures.

A restricted diet

Daniela Aguilar, a nutritionist at the Bengoa Foundation commented that Venezuelans “have stopped eating well”, due to low income and inflation.

A restricted diet can cause immunological deficiencies, undernourishment, overall increase in mortality, and reduced ability to perform certain basic activities. The incidence of gastritis, intoxication, parasites, diabetes, and obesity is also more frequent with a restricted diet.

Translated by Andreína Trujillo