Good Enough to Eat? How Countries Line Up at the Global Food Table

January 16, 2014
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Oxfam has released Good Enough to Eat – a global food index that looks at whether people have enough to eat, food quality, affordability, and dietary health in 125 countries.

Oxfam’s research shows the Netherlands has the world’s most plentiful, nutritious, healthy and affordable diet, with France and Switzerland in second place. Chad came in last in 125th spot, behind Ethiopia and Angola.

Canada ranked 25th, in large part because of the country's growing struggle with obesity, and unhealthy eating.

Robert Fox, Executive Director at Oxfam Canada, said: “Too many families in too many countries are struggling to feed themselves. For some there just isn’t enough food. For many more, the challenge is the cost or quality or diets that undermine their health. Even in a wealthy country like Canada there’s a big gap between what people need and what they get.”

Inequality, weak distribution and failed markets mean that people in many countries go to bed hungry, especially women. Oxfam is calling for urgent reform to the way food is produced and distributed around the world, to put an end to this scandal.

Good Enough to Eat: The Food Index


“We need to recognize that despite there being enough food to go around, some countries do not have sufficient, healthy and affordable food,” said Fox.

In Canada, problems accessing good food are most acute in aboriginal communities. For example, more than half of children in Nunavut live in food insecure households - one of the highest rates among Indigenous Peoples in any developed country.

“The Canadian government has a role to play in ending hunger at home by putting in place a national food policy, and a responsibility to ensure our international aid puts women food producers at the centre of a global response to food insecurity,” said Fox.

An Oxfam campaign called “GROW” – - gives Canadians smart ways to change their eating and cooking habits, and shows how to build a more just and sustainable food system.

Globally, the campaign calls for more investment in small-holder agriculture and better infrastructure to boost crop production, prevent waste, improve access to markets and put an end to unjust land grabs. It wants women farmers to have equal access to land, credit, training and the means to adapt to the devastating effects of climate change.

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Notes to Editors

The Good Enough to Eat index, which includes the raw figures, an online graphic of the data and a media brief is available here

The index looks at four core concerns for consumers around the world, using two measures to help assess the challenges:

  1. Do people have enough to eat? - Measured by levels of undernourishment and underweight children.
  2. Can people afford to eat? – Measured by food price levels compared to other goods and services and food price volatility
  3. Is food of good quality? – Measured by diet diversification and access to clean and safe water
  4. What are the health outcomes of people’s diet? – Measured by diabetes and obesity.

Eight established global data sources were identified that capture aspects of the food market relevant for this index. All figures are the most recently available global data sources from internationally recognised organisations – The Food and Agriculture Organisation, The World Health Organisation and the International Labour Organisation. To create a globally comparable index, the sources have global coverage, scoring between 134 and 200 countries and territories.

Each of the sources used different scales in measuring the countries, requiring a process to standardise them so that they could be compared. The standard MIN / MAX rescaling method was used, generating re-scaled values of 0-100 where 0 points is the minimum score (best) and 100 points is the maximum score (worst). The process is based on identifying the countries with the minimum and maximum scores in the original data, scoring them 0 and 100 respectively and then measuring how far every other country is from these maximum and minimum values.

All countries with data for each measure were included in the re-scaling process to ensure that the final result was a globally comparable one. However, only the countries that had data for all eight measures were included in the final index, with one exception. For most developed countries, there is no data available for the underweight children measure. For those countries that achieved the minimum score for the undernourishment measure they were assumed to also be amongst the best in the world for measures for underweight children. The Good Enough To Eat database therefore includes 125 countries. That some of the measures do not include minimum or maximum scores illustrates that there are countries that are better or worse but are not included in the index because they do not have data available for the other measures. Raw data of all countries is available.


Good Enough to Eat – the best and worst

Core Questions and Measures Best Country Worst Country
Good Enough to Eat (Combined Scores) The Netherlands (6) Chad (50)
1. Enough to Eat Multiple countries (28 score 0) Burundi (89)
Undernourishment Multiple (62 countries score 0) Burundi (100)
Underweight Children Multiple (28 countries score 0) India (96)
2. Afford to Eat USA (6) Angola (90)
Food Price Level (relative to other goods and services) The Netherlands (6) Guinea (100)
Food Price Inflation Volatility Japan, Canada and the US (1) Angola and Zimbabwe (100)^
3. Food Quality Iceland (0) Madagascar (86)
Diet Diversification Iceland (0) Bangladesh and Lesotho (98)
Access to Clean and Safe Water Multiple (32 countries score 0) Mozambique (75)
4. Unhealthy Eating Cambodia (1) Saudi Arabia (54)
Diabetes Cambodia (0) Saudi Arabia (61)
Obesity Bangladesh, Nepal and Ethiopia (0) Kuwait (58)

Sources used:

Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO):

World Health Organisation:

International Labour Organisation (ILO):


For more information:

Melanie Gallant
Media Relations
Oxfam Canada


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