World Obesity May Soon Overtake World Hunger
An unlikely trade-off is on the horizon where one extreme may soon be replaced by an opposite and equally disturbing extreme. A world going hungry might be transitioning into a world bursting at the belt line, since no middle-income country has been able to successfully address the problem of hunger without substituting it with the problem of obesity. "Too little" is being overturned by "too much" and one is as problematic as the other.
In 1950, the number of starving people worldwide was approximately 700 million, while the number of obese people worldwide was about 100 million. The majority of those who were obese were found primarily in affluent countries.
By 2010, those who are hungry worldwide grew to 800 million and the number of obese people in the world grew to 500 million, with the rate of extreme obesity skyrocketing by 350 percent in the United States alone. It is estimated that more than one billion people will meet the criteria for obesity by the year 2030.
It is expected that 100 million people in India will soon have diabetes. In Mexico (where carbonated beverages are consumed more than anywhere else in the world) programs have been created that offer free fitness classes and bariatric surgery.
What Has Changed?
As is usually the case, the culprit for this particular bit of bad news is processed foods. Once processed foods become the mainstay of a diet, obesity is not far behind. Food was once fresh and grown locally, but has since been replaced by sugar-enriched processed stuff that is filled with fats and chemical additives. Processed food has been deemed as dangerous to a person's health as either alcohol or tobacco.
Soda consumption is another problem worldwide. Sweetened beverages are now more common in developing countries, and the obesity rate is growing. The obesity problem in Mexico most likely stems from soda; the population consumes the beverage as a substitute for the countries substandard water.
The Health Risks
Seventy-five percent of health care costs in the United States are obesity-related, and one of every five deaths is associated with obesity. Obesity-related health risks are well-known and include type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and different types of cancer.
Childhood obesity has also spiraled well into a danger zone. One-third of American kids between the ages of two and 19 are overweight or obese. Today's youth is 40 percent heavier than the youth of 25 years ago. The current trend translates into compromised longevity and quality of life, as well as an overburdened health care system.
To the surprise of no one, resolution will be found in diet and exercise. Plenty of fruits and vegetables. Plenty of water. Plenty of fish and poultry. Consult your doctor about how to proceed, and remember that exercise doesn't have to be a burden. Walking, biking, and swimming are all legitimate modes of exercise, although strength-developing exercises should be part of the mix. Most important is to be sure that your activities are age appropriate and compatible to your physical condition.
Living life well-fed,
My Bariatric Life
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