FORT WORTH, Texas October 11, 2017 — It’s official. Today, there are more overweight than underweight people throughout the world. This is an historical first.
Never before in the history of the world have more people had access to food and enough of it to eat. On the surface that sounds good. However, there is a consequence that no one expected: Obesity.
Obesity is now so prevalent that today we observe the third annual World Obesity Day. The World Obesity Federation established this day and hosts the event each year in hopes of reversing the tide of this growing calamity.
How could this happen? The Harvard School of Public Health attributes it to globalization, which helps to eradicate poverty and reduce hunger and infectious disease, thus advancing the quality of life worldwide. However, the same changes that brought about such abundance have also enabled people to overcompensate for their good dietary fortune. This continues to drive the obesity epidemics in China, India, and other growing nations around the world.
The Harvard School notes that although malnutrition continues to be an issue in some parts of the world, the complications arising from too many people growing fat are becoming much more common than in the past.
Globalization has brought fast food, digital TVs and iPhones and other innovations to far off places like New Delhi, Beijing, and Istanbul. Not long ago Nestlé sponsored a “supermarket barge” that sailed the Amazon River delta and brought natives such fat-inducing delicacies as chocolate pudding, ice cream, and candy.
In similar fashion, vendors from other companies go door to door in poverty-stricken areas in areas of India and Africa to sell processed foods. As one result, Western technologies and junk food are rapidly changing the traditional natural diets and good health of these people for the worse.
In the West, the obesity pandemic has been a first-world problem for quite some time. The UK led the way to address the issue in the early 1960s. British medical professionals met annually on the issue.
As their numbers grew, these professionals realized they needed a way to share their knowledge with the public. Consequently, the “Obesity Association” came to be. Research on obesity began to take off in the 1970s, laying the foundation for further studies.
Since then, our post-modern age has brought us cell phones, microwave ovens, video games and other devices meant to enhance our lives. But along with making life easier, all these innovative products have ended up chaining us to our TVs, making us slaves to our smartphones and filling us up with processed foods that are frequently of dubious nutritional value.
Another serious problem generated by our electronic devices: We are no longer as physically active as we once were, with serious detrimental effects on the state of our health. Today, most Westerners must intentionally decide to move to get some semblance of meaningful exercise in their daily lives.
Today’s World Obesity Federation is an outgrowth of that original “Obesity Association.” Their mission includes research, policy, education and membership, all of which are promoted and encouraged on their website, which states:
“World Obesity / Knowledge Solutions Action is a global network of experts working to alert the world to the growing health crisis caused by soaring levels of obesity. It provides professionals with research, and resources to better treat patients and further their careers. It works with the WHO, other NGOs and stakeholders to address this challenge.”
When my mom was a child in the 1940s, she was encouraged to do what she could to help the “poor people in China.” I was encouraged to think about the “starving people in India” if I complained I didn’t want food my mother had prepared in the 1970s. A later generation advocated the eradication of hunger in Africa. All were worthwhile causes.
The West also encouraged these countries to govern themselves as opposed to having a king, dictator, emperor, or others that would stand in the way of running the country the way the people wanted it run. In general, these aims are all good things.
Like personal freedom and good government, our own individual health is a personal concern that has become a global concern as well. Given the growing obesity problem worldwide, it’s time to take a closer look at ourselves and decide if transforming the world’s populace into couch potatoes and filling them with nefarious products is such a good thing.
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