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World Obesity: Recognizing a new worldwide health epidemic

Written By | Nov 1, 2017

Not all Western concepts are good for growing nations. (Christopher Dombres/ Flickr)

FORT WORTH, Texas November 1, 2017 — Obesity and associated disease are becoming epidemic worldwide. There are more overweight than underweight people throughout the world.

This is a 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.

World Obesity Day

Obesity is now so prevalent that recently we observed 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.

How parents can help children maintain a healthy weight

Malnutrition and Obesity go hand in hand

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.


Do growing third-world countries REALLY need candy? (Erica Minton/Flickr)

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.

Our post-modern age has brought us cell phones, microwave ovens, video games and other devices meant to enhance our lives. All these innovative products have us chained to our TVs, made us slaves to our smartphones and fills us up with processed foods with dubious nutritional value.

Childhood obesity in America

Less physical activity and electronics lead to world obesity

Another serious problem is generated by our electronic devices. We are no longer as physically active as we once were. The result is the 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.”


Does chocolate pudding really benefit growing countries?

When my mom was a child, she was encouraged to help the “poor people in China.” I was encouraged to think about the “starving people in India”.

A later generation advocated the eradication of hunger in Africa. All were worthwhile causes.

Individual health is a personal concern that has become a global concern as well. Given the growing obesity problem , it’s time to take a closer look at ourselves. Is transforming the world’s populace into couch potatoes and filling them with empty calories a good thing?


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Claire Hickey

Claire Hickey was born the last year of the Baby Boom and spent the first half of childhood in Chicago. She has always loved to write but wanted to create pieces worth reading. Her curiosity and love of research lead her to create her column based on the “garbage in garbage out” theory to provide interesting and thought-provoking pieces that enrich her readers. She also believes life is a banquet and loves to learn new things. Her professional pedigree includes Cosmetology, Surgical Technology, and the Culinary Arts. When not working she loves to spend time with family and friends. She lives in Fort Worth.