First World Problems, Third World Nation

I like to think I am an optimist.  I like to look for the good in the bad.  This CNN story is one such example:

More than 2 billion adults and children globally are overweight or obese and suffer health problems because of their weight, a new study reports.

This equates to one-third of the world’s population carrying excess weight, fueled by urbanization, poor diets and reduced physical activity.

Another way of delivering this message is one-third of the world has too much to eat.  It’s true, according to the study, that much of this is in the highly developed nations like the US, but obesity is also becoming problems in poorer nations [emphasis added]:

The United States has the greatest percentage of obese children and young adults, at 13%, while Egypt led in terms of adult obesity, with almost 35%, among the 195 countries and territories included in the study.

The data revealed that the number of people affected by obesity has doubled since 1980 in 73 countries, and continued to rise across most other countries included in the analysis.

In terms of numbers, the large population sizes of China and India meant they had the highest numbers of obese children, with 15.3 million and 14.4 million, respectively.

What’s causing the increase?  The authors of the study write:

Obesity levels have risen in all countries, irrespective of their income level, meaning the issue is not simply down to wealth, the authors say in the paper.

“Changes in the food environment and food systems are probably major drivers,” they write. “Increased availability, accessibility, and affordability of energy dense foods, along with intense marketing of such foods, could explain excess energy intake and weight gain among different populations.”

This is an amazing development.  In 1992, approximately 17.5% of the world’s population was undernourished.  Now, we have the exact opposite problem!  1/3rd is over-nourished!  Undernourishment has fallen to approximately 9.8% of the population. In short, we’ve gotten so good at producing and distributing food, we’re dying from having too much!

To be sure, obesity has a myriad of health problems associated with it, but the fact that people who are in countries that, not too long ago, were suffering from starvation and famine, is an encouraging sign of how wealthy the world has become, especially since the fall of socialism and the rise of globalization.

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