In the 1950s, there were approximately 700 million people living in hunger, while the number of obese people was around 100 million, and a majority of the cases were found in countries with strong economies. Today, however, that is no longer the case.
According to a documentary, “Globeisty: Fat’s New Frontier,” there has been not one country with a low or moderate income that has managed to reduce its number of hungry citizens without rapidly jumping to obesity.
However, obesity is not just limited to developed nations. Currently, there are more obese people in developing countries than there are people suffering from hunger in the same countries.
It is predicted that in India, around 100 million people will have diabetes some time in the foreseeable future. Currently, in the U.S. alone, eight obesity-related diseases are the cause for over 75% of healthcare costs. The diseases include, but are not limited to: Type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (or NAFLD), Polycystic ovarian syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.
One of the leading causes of this rise in obesity is linked to the increase in the consumption of soft drinks. There has been a direct correlation between the rise in obesity rates in developing countries and the sales of soft drinks. In Mexico, the largest consumer of carbonated soft drinks in the world, 71% of women and 65% of men are overweight.
In 1989, Mexico had a miniscule portion of its adult population overweight and had no overweight children. Over the span of 15 to 16 years, the citizens of Mexico have reached a level of diabetes equal to the level the U.S. had 10 to 20 years ago.
However, another leading cause of obesity is consumption of foods filled with carbohydrates. In the 1950s, most of the food globally consumed was locally grown and fresh. Now, the majority of food consumed in developed and developing nations is highly processed and filled with carbohydrates. When a person eats a carbohydrate-heavy meal and fails to move a sufficient enough amount to turn the carbohydrates into energy, they are turned into sugar and fat.
In “The World is Fat,” an article written in 2007, Barry Popkin stated that the “exponential change in a vast array of courses” have led to people moving less and eating more, resulting in an “unprecedented” rise in obesity.
One final cause of obesity can be linked to accessibility of certain types of food, drink and cooking material.
In the 1970s and 1980s, the citizens of China were readily able to access hydrogenated solid oils like Crisco and liquid oils. Now, a Chinese citizen consumes around 300 to 400 of their daily calories from vegetable oil. There has also been an increase in the consumption of dairy products, fish, poultry, beef and pork. In 1974, the price of 100 kilograms of beef was somewhere around $500 in developing nations. Today, the price has dropped to around one-fifth of that number.
There is a movement, though, to try to halt the rise of obesity. In Mexico, special fitness programs are available to try to encourage people to move more. These programs are offered for free to allow anyone who needs it the chance to prevent obesity. The Mexican Minister of Health also has proposed taxing items and taking more aggressive stands toward working to combat obesity.
– Monica Newell