Hunger and obesity

A happy new year!

At the beginning of the new year, I want to think with you about two global health issues, hunger, and obesity.

Generally, we think that hunger is problem in developing countries and obesity is in developed countries however according to the WHO report, one-third of poorer countries face both undernutrition and obesity.

Ellen Gustafson is an American businessperson, social entrepreneur, and sustainable food system activist who also delivered the following famous presentation:

Ellen Gustafson • TEDxEast

Hunger and obesity are the same malnutrition problems and exist in the same country. In this case, logically lack of the amount of food at least calorie base is not the cause of them. In addition to that, most people are suffered from hunger are farmers. They produce food but lack meals.

What is the root cause of these world problems?

Let’s use “systems thinking”.

When you look at the above sustainable food system chart, you realize that we are living in a global food system. We are producing, exporting importing, and consuming foods. As a result of the current system, we have those paradoxical problems.

This is a system problem.

How can we solve this problem? Which is the leverage factor?

We should change all the system factors however I propose one factor to tackle with. Our dietary habits.

If we know the ideal behavior to eat, we would be healthy and reduce the amount of food to eat in case we eat too much, however, in most cases, we do not care and do not have enough knowledge.

Therefore, education on dietary habits in terms of preventive health will be a starting point.

If consumers change their diets, retailers would change their products.

Then, ideally, processors, collectors, and producers change their products.

If the system changes like this, we can have healthy diets more easily.

Dietary habit is the starting point and the goal of our healthy life.

3 thoughts on “Hunger and obesity”

  1. Hi Mr Tsuboi!
    How are you!
    Hope you are fine!
    Obesity is not a disease of rich countries.
    The epidemic is spreading all over the world, including poor and developing countries, where the undernutrition and the overweight coexist in the same country and even in the same family.
    Obesity and Hunger are both complicated and interdependant.
    In the past, before several years, obesity was observed in rich countries because of high revenues of people, bad habits of consumption and lack of awareness related to nutrition.
    Some rich people with high revenues, can acquire expensive food containing both calories, vitamins and necessary elements and also fruits drinks without lots of sugar. But most of them prefer consuming manufactured products at lot prices, which are rich of fats and sugar (calories) but poor on vitamins, fibers and minerals, and this because of fast life style. This situation leads to the obesity, the overweight, and also the apparition of diabetes, heart disease and other diseases.
    Obesity became a global problem in the world because of the actual environment of life and the international commerce requirements such as the ease access to the large diversity of products marketed between countries, the difference of prices according to the different qualities of products, mechanization (taxi, bus, cars), lack of physical activities, infrastructures which brake the mobility, the availability of fast food and even bad habits (malnutrition and overweight).
    In the other wise, hunger is observed in poor countries because of low revenues. Poor people can not acquire food rich of vitamins, minerals and fibers.
    Even in rich countries we can find poor people which suffer from hunger and undernutrition.
    There is a type of hunger called hided hunger.
    Because some people and also child, infants ,and babies consume a large quantity of food, but this food is poor of essential nutriments for good health.
    In developing countries, people are passing from hunger and undernutrition to malnutrition and obesity , and this because of the availability of food at low prices but rich of fats, calories and poor of necessary nutriments for good health.
    Conversely, obesity in rural areas of low and middle revenues is raising, due to the changing living conditions: the easier access to processed food and sugary drinks which promotes overweight, and the mechanization of agriculture, which leads to a decline in physical activity.
    Governments in poor countries should give more consideration to people in rural areas, and this though the facilitation of the access to beneficial products, the enforcement of regulation related to nutritional labeling and the increase of taxation of processed food and sodas.
    All governments in the world have to think seriously of how to fight against hunger, undernutrition, malnutrition, overweight and obesity, and have to integrate nutrition among the objectives of international organizations.
    Worldwide, there are more obese people than undernourished people. Obesity is more mortal than hunger.

    1. Hi, Nesrine-san,
      Thank you for your comment.
      As you mentioned, we should reconsider the current global food system.
      The leverage point of the system might be our dietary habits.
      Let’s think about the ideal meal we should have and enjoy. 🙂

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