This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Nutrition Transition Catches Up With Latin America

For most of human existence, the food supply was precarious and famines were common. The industrial revolution and changes in modern farming practices have made more food available per person than at any other time in human history. But there is a precarious balance between what we eat and our health. As a species we are working our way through the nutrition transition, as described by Barry Popkin and his associates 25 years ago. The current phase in that transition involves a marked worldwide shift toward a diet high in fat and processed foods and low in fiber, accompanied by lower levels of physical exercise, leading to corresponding increases in degenerative diseases. There is no better evidence of that than a report out this week from the UN World Food Programme highlighting the rise in obesity in several Latin American countries. The Guardian summarizes the report (the original of which is in Spanish).
More than two-thirds of people living in Mexico, Chile and Ecuador are overweight or obese, costing their economies tens of billions of dollars every year, driving rates of disease and straining health services, according to a new UN report.
While the number of hungry people in Latin America and the Caribbean has halved in the past 25 years, the region is now struggling to combat an obesity epidemic.
Changing diets, including more processed food that are high in salt, sugar and fat, along with more sedentary lifestyles have triggered a rising tide of obesity, experts say.
This is not just a "rich country" phenomenon. My colleagues and I have found the same patterns emerging in Ghana and elsewhere in West Africa. Not enough food will kill you, but too much food of the wrong kinds (especially in combination with a more sedentary lifestyle that comes with modernity) is also not good for you. Eat enough, but eat smart.

1 comment:

  1. Success with an aging demos?