Food for thought


Category : Medical Rants

It’s a fat, fat, fat, fat world: America’s blueprint for poor eating is being spread around planet

During the past four decades, global population has doubled, but food output, driven by increases in productivity, has outpaced it. Poverty, infant mortality and hunger are receding. For the first time in our planet’s history, a species no longer lives at the mercy of scarcity. We have learned to feed ourselves.

We’ve learned so well, in fact, that we’re getting fat. Not just the United States or Europe, but the whole world. Egyptian, Mexican and South African women are now as fat as Americans. Far more Filipino adults are now overweight than underweight. In China, 1 in 5 adults is too heavy, and the rate of overweight children is 28 times higher than it was two decades ago. In Kuwait, Thailand and Tunisia, obesity, diabetes and heart disease are soaring.

Hunger is far from conquered. But since 1990, the global rate of malnutrition has declined an average of 1.7 percent a year. Based on data from the World Health Organization and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, for every 2 people who are malnourished, 3 are now overweight or obese. Among women, even in most African countries, overweight has surpassed underweight. The balance of peril is shifting.

Fat is no longer a rich man’s disease. For middle- and high-income Americans, the obesity rate is 29 percent. For low-income Americans, it’s 35 percent. Fourteen percent of middle- and high-income kids age 15 to 17 are overweight. For low-income kids in the same age bracket, it’s 23 percent. Globally, weight has tended to rise with income. But a recent study in Vancouver, British Columbia, found that preschoolers in “food-insecure” households were twice as likely as other kids to be overweight or obese. In Brazilian cities, the poor have become fatter than the rich.

Technologically, this is a triumph. In the early days of our species, even the rich starved. Barry Popkin, a nutritional epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina, divides history into several epochs. In the hunter-gatherer era, if we didn’t find food, we died. In the agricultural era, if our crops perished, we died. In the industrial era, famine receded, but infectious diseases killed us. Now we’ve achieved such control over nature that we’re dying not of starvation or infection, but of abundance. Nature isn’t killing us. We’re killing ourselves.

This is the number one worldwide public health problem in 2006.

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Comments (7)

Obvious solution: Put rosiglitazone in the food!

Obesity has traditionally been a problem of the rich throughout the ages. Wealth is more widespread than ever. Why are you indulging in self-flagellation about how this is America exporting it’s bad eating habits? Is nothing the rest of the world does their own damn fault? Are we such overwhelming leaders of the sheeple throughout the globe that it logically follows that all bad habits emanate from this country? (Unless of course you’re giving us an obtuse compliment on how we’ve helped increase the overall wealth of the world.)

My 8 y/o son brought in a current events article regarding this and asked me if the crust of the earth will fall into the mantle because of increasing obesity in the world’s population.

I like the rosiglitazone idea. we should start putting some of that mixed in with the sugar crystals maybe….

I can see us all as grandparents, talking to our grandkids:

“I remember the epidemic of obesity, Little Johnny. It was awful… There were cheesecakes hiding behind every bush, just waiting to jump us….”

Yeah. We’re all fat.
It’s really hard to be thin now. Well what’s funny is that “thin” used to mean something like “underweight,” but now it just means “healthy weight,” and “normal” is overweight. And obviously low-income people will be fatter, because food that is terrible for you is always the cheapest. Why is that surprising to anyone? Oh wait, probably because the people who conduct those studies have never had to buy dinner at KMart.

And I’m convinced you have to have an eating disorder to maintain a healthy weight now, especially if you were born after 1970 or so. You have to count calories and worry about what you’re eating all the time, and be prepared for all the fat people to call you anorexic, “too thin,” etc. People have forgotten what healthy weight is. I can’t tell you how much grief I get from overweight people telling me not to worry about my diet, how many obese diabetics see me walking and stop their cars and literally INSIST on giving me a ride.
People just don’t get it.
Fat is a lifestyle now, connected to all our modern conveniences, and that is what is killing us: Convenience.

“Barry Popkin”

Whoah. I bet this guy gets confused with Mary Poppins like, all the time.


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