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© Akari Nakamura

The World Is Fatter than Ever

Nations around the world are feeling the weight of the global obesity epidemic.

What began as a problem in affluent countries is now a universal health crisis: People are getting dangerously fat more than ever before. Since 1980, global obesity rates have more than doubled, and data shows that there is no longer a strong correlation between a country’s economic status and its population’s Body Mass Index (BMI).

Silently, the epidemic has spread to underdeveloped countries, carrying various health issues along with it. A person weighing at least 20% more than their normal weight is at risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, various cancers and other life-threatening diseases. These illnesses require lengthy and expensive treatments, which are often unattainable to those in developing countries. In 2000, 17% of deaths in poor countries were attributed to nutrition-related heart disease, and nations with a per capita GDP under $5,000 face significant risks of obesity and high cholesterol.

While one in nine people in the world suffers from chronic undernourishment, one in 10 is obese, fast food being the common contributing factor across the board. The fast-food industry reels in a revenue of over $570 billion globally, and McDonald’s alone generates more than $35 billion worth in sales. In Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health, Marion Nestle unveils how fast-food franchises market their products, particularly to children, minority groups and those in developing countries, to raise profit margins. With the industry aggressively expanding into new, populous markets, replacing traditional foods and local produce, the number overweight kids under five has increased by 50% since 2000 across the African continent.

The Economist looks at how the obesity epidemic has spread to all regions of the world and has turned into a global health issue.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.

Photo Credit: Akari Nakamura / Shutterstock.com