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Food for an Urban Planet: Challenges and Research Opportunities

Knorr, Dietrich; Khoo, Chor San Heng; Augustin, Mary Ann

In 2014, Khoo and Knorr (1) identified the global shift in population demographics as one of the twenty-first century grand challenges, which warrants research prioritization by the food and nutrition communities. A persistent global growth trend toward urbanization can be attributed to this demographic shift. Satterthwaite et al. (2) characterized urbanization as “the increasing share of a nation’s population living in urban areas (and thus a declining share living in rural areas)” and stated that “Most urbanization is the result of net rural to urban migration, decline in rural population and gain in urban populations giving rise to megacities.” The global urban population is projected to increase by 1.84% per year between 2015 and 2020, by 1.63% between 2020 and 2025, and by 1.44% between 2025 and 2030. In 2016, 54% of the global population resided in urban areas; this is expected to rise to 60% by 2030, meaning that one in every three people will live in cities with more than half a million inhabitants. Meanwhile, the rural population is projected to decline from 45 to 40% between 2016 and 2030 (3) (Table 1). By 2050, more than 6.5 billion of the expected 9.6 billion global population will live in megacities with 10 million or more inhabitants, meaning that nearly two out of three individuals will be city dwellers (4–7).
Published in: Frontiers in Nutrition, 10.3389/fnut.2017.00073, Frontiers Media S.A.