This Thanksgiving, like every Thanksgiving, the average American will eat far more than he or she needs to. The average daily caloric intake of an American is now 3,700 calories. On Thanksgiving, that average jumps to 4,500.
Many of us will sit around large tables, eating too much, drinking too much, and avoiding conversations about religion or politics. Someone will fall into a tryptophan coma. Someone might joke that we should clear our plates because people are starving in Africa. We are thankful for the 4,500 calories in our bellies. It’s time to watch professional sports on TV.
Meanwhile, people really are starving all around the world. And it’s worth remembering it on a day of gluttonous food consumption followed by another day — Black Friday — of gluttonous material consumption. Even in the United States, where food assistance programs are being cut, food pantries and charity Thanksgiving meals will be packed this Thursday.
Elsewhere around the globe, things are much, much worse. While the average American consumes 4,500 calories this Thanksgiving, people in these 15 countries will consume less than half of that amount, if they are lucky, and much, much less if they are not.
There are several metrics for assessing and describing hunger. This list is arranged by the number of calories available each day to the average person.
Additional categories include: the percentage of a country's population that is undernourished; the country's calorie deficit, or the daily number of calories that each undernourished person would need to eat to become nourished; and the Global Hunger Index ranking, which uses a combination of metrics to rank at-risk countries from 1 to 78, with 78 being the most at-risk country.
These are the hungriest countries in the world.
15) North Korea: 2,240 calories per day
Undernourished: 31 percent
Calorie deficit: 238
GHI ranking: 51 (tied with Kenya)
14) Rwanda: 2,240 calories per day
Undernourished: 29.7 percent
Calorie deficit: 201
GHI ranking: 41
13) Tanzania: 2,210 calories per day
Undernourished: 33 percent
Calorie deficit: 221
GHI ranking: 62
12) Kenya: 2,180 calories per day
Undernourished: 25.8 percent
Calorie deficit: 166
GHI ranking: 51 (tied with North Korea)
11) Mozambique: 2,180 calories per day
Undernourished: 36.8 percent
Calorie deficit: 269
GHI ranking: 64
10) Democratic Republic of Congo: 2,170 calories per day
Undernourished: 33 percent
Calorie deficit: 234
GHI ranking: 61
9) Madagascar: 2,160 calories per day
Undernourished: 27.2 percent
Calorie deficit: 176
GHI ranking: 70
8) Comoros: 2,110 calories per day
Undernourished: 65.3 percent
Calorie deficit: 655
GHI ranking: 76
7) Swaziland: 2,100 calories per day
Undernourished: 35.8 percent
Calorie deficit: 262
GHI ranking: 35
6) Palestinian Territories: 2,090 calories per day
Undernourished: 31.8 percent
Calorie deficit: 211
GHI ranking: unranked
5) Haiti: 1,980 calories per day
Undernourished: 49.8 percent
Calorie deficit: 431
GHI ranking: 67
4) Timor Este: 1,920 calories per day
Undernourished: 38.3 percent
Calorie deficit: 254
GHI ranking: 75
3) Zambia: 1,910 calories per day
Undernourished: 43.1 percent
Calorie deficit: 306
GHI ranking: 69
2) Eritrea: 1,730 calories per day
Undernourished: 61.3 percent
Calorie deficit: 488
GHI ranking: 77
1) Burundi: 1,670 calories per day
Undernourished: 67.3 percent
Calorie deficit: 581
GHI ranking: 78
Countries not included in this list but that rank below 50 in the Global Hunger Index include: Sudan, Chad, Yemen, Ethiopia, Central African Republic, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, India, Niger, Djibouti, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Uganda, Angola, Laos, Namibia, Liberia.
Add those countries to the 15 listed here, and you've got the 28 hungriest countries on Earth.