According to a recent United Nations report, world hunger and malnutrition levels exacerbated substantially in 2020, with the majority of the rise presumably attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The number of undernourished people increased to approximately 768 million - equivalent to 10% of the world's population and an increase of approximately 118 million from 2019, according to a report released by U.N. agencies including the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Food Program and the World Health Organization.

Of the 768 million undernourished individuals, 418 million lived in Asia, 282 million in Africa, and 60 million in Latin America and the Caribbean. In Africa, 21% of the population is malnourished, which is more than double the rate in any other region.

According to the 2021 edition of "The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World," on current trends, the U.N. sustainable development target of zero hunger by 2030 would be missed by more than 660 million people.

That figure is 30 million more than if the pandemic hadn't happened.

The report recommended that politicians and officials take steps to prevent malnutrition, including incorporating humanitarian, development and peace-building policies in conflict zones, strengthening the resilience of the most vulnerable to economic adversity, and addressing poverty and structural inequalities.

Food insecurity has been on the rise since the mid-2010s, after falling for several decades, particularly in nations afflicted by conflict, climatic extremes, economic downturns or severe inequality.

The rise last year, however, was equivalent to the sum of the previous five years.

"In a world of plenty, we have no excuse for billions to lack access to a healthy diet. This is why I'm convening a global Food Systems Summit this September," U.N. secretary-general António Guterres said.