Since i pondered on the varying rates of overweight and obesity in my previous post, I thought it’d be good to share some epidemiology [social statistics of obesity] on the subject!
So while in the US 1/3 of Americans have obesity (BMI of 30 or higher), it is definitely not an American problem. All over the world there are 1.5 billion people that are obese. In the US particularly , the societal factors most linked to obesity are: education years, socio-economic status, food habits, socio-cultural environment, and poverty.
Some folks argue that the most important factor in causing obesity is the change in culture- global modernization, urbanization, computer lifestyle, access to fast food, driving a car vs. walking. In China and India, for example, modernization goes along with the development of obesity (obesity rates accelerate there way faster than ever seen in the US!).
These cultural changes are not really “changes” to us any more- they are pretty much natural. For example: eating at a fast food place on the run once every other day or your job consisting of sitting on the chair 90% of the time.
The concept being talked about is the “toxic environment”– having increased access to unhealthy food choices that are convenient and inexpensive, sedentary-promoting environment.
This of course is a nice potential explanation. Even as I think of Ukraine and a lower rate of extra body weight: for the most part people cook meals at home vs. eat out. Why? It is simply cheaper. As a bonus- it is also seen as much healthier (depends if you want it to be). But would people spend time on making a healthy dinner at home if McDonald’s became 5 times cheaper? No, I think we would have the same situation in the US where 44% of people eat fast food once a week at least.
That is the official information shared by Dr. Levine from Mayo (who also works at my university with the Obesity Solutions initiative). I have heard many other explanations for why the world’s population is getting heavier. The ones related to food range from toxic food (GMOs, high fructose corn syrup), artificial sweeteners and other ingredients, MSG, gluten, pasteurized foods (e.g. dairy) and so on.
My thought is… Living your life in this new world is definitely a struggle if you want to have a normal weight and feel your best- it is almost a fight against nature (nature now being replaced by the iron jungle of the city). Suddenly you have to pay attention to every ingredient, find the time to sign up for a gym and squeeze in some physical activity in your schedule, spend energy on finding not-so-toxic products that probably cost more, etc. But of course it is all about trade-offs… people all over the world are looking for convenience, for a break from hard work. They seek ways to improve their live by modernizing, having transportation, not needing to spend half a day cooking meals and then cleaning after. Yet this comes at a price of poor health eventually.