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Survey shows Venezuelans have lost average of 19 pounds over past year due to food shortages

David Maris via AFP
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Reports of desperate citizens eating domestic animals

For months, news reports out of Venezuela have depicted empty grocery store shelves and long lines to purchase food.

Now, an official report shows that in the past year nearly 75 percent of the people in the South American country have lost an average of 19 pounds each. And some, classified as extreme poor, said they dropped even more weight than that.

The 2016 Living Conditions Survey (Encovi, for its name in Spanish), conducted among 6,500 families, also found that as many as 32.5 percent eat only once or twice a day — the figure was 11.3 just a year ago, Fox News reported. In all, 82 percent of the nation’s households live in poverty, the study found.

Reports Fox:

Venezuelans suffer shortages of the most basic goods, from food to medicine, amid triple-digit inflation and a nearly 80 percent currency collapse in the last year.

A whopping 93.3 percent told Encovi researchers that their income was not enough to cover their food needs, which would explain why Venezuelans are replacing red and white meat with vegetables and tubers, mainly potato, and other cheaper options.

“There is a change in eating habits patterns from 2014 [when Encovi surveys began]. Previously Venezuelans consumed primarily rice, breads and pastas; now it’s tubers,” said Maritza Landaeta, a researcher with the Venezuelan Health Observatory, as quoted by runrun.es.

“In our qualitative studies we observed mothers who say that they fed their children only with bananas or auyamas [a kind of pumpkin] to satisfy their feeding needs,” she said.

The survey found that 65 percent of those surveyed reported having children at home who had skipped school for food-related reasons, including filling in for their parents in the long food lines.

People’s desperation has led to consummation of dogs, cats, donkeys and even giant anteaters.

“Sometimes we only find the animal’s heads, guts and legs. We used to see this very little in the past, but this practice is now out of control and on the rise,” Robert Linares, a Maracaibo waste disposal worker, told the Miami Herald.

In another study, 34 percent of children in the western part of Caracas were found to be suffering from various nutritional deficiencies. The study, conducted by the Catholic charity Caritas, found that 7 percent were suffering from moderate to severe malnutrition and more prone to get sick because of poor diet.

To try to prevent further weight losses, Caritas has given vitamins and extra food to the families of children who are underweight, Fides news service reported.

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