Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Obesity eclipses malnutrition as public policy concern

While weight is a frequent topic in the image-obsessed US, it's rare that obesity is put into perspective globally beside starvation.
[Professor Barry Popkin from the University of North Carolina] told the International Association of Agricultural Economists the number of overweight people had topped 1bn, compared with 800m undernourished... the change had happened quickly as obesity was rapidly spreading, while hunger was slowly declining among the world's 6.5bn population... "Obesity is the norm globally and under nutrition, while still important in a few countries and in targeted populations in many others, is no longer the dominant disease."

He said the "burden of obesity", with its related illnesses, was also shifting from the rich to the poor, not only in urban but in rural areas around the world. China typified the changes, with a major shift in diet from cereals to animal products and vegetable oils accompanied by a decline in physical work, more motorised transport and more television viewing, he added.|BBC|(emphasis added)
This actually cheers me up a bit. I think that it's easier for governments and the world community to deal with the consequences of people being overweight than it is to deal with the problems that lead to malnutrition. Of course, the global warming effects on agriculture may turn this figure around in a hurry...

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