Authors of an eye opening report into world obesity identify increasing reliance on processed foods as being key in the explosion in the number of people developing obesity in the modern world.
The report put together by the Overseas Development Institute reviewed data showing rates of overweight and obese people through the world. The data shows that 1 in 3 people are overweight and the number would be higher were it not for many countries also having problems with malnutrition. In the report, a BMI (Body Mass Index) of over 25 was classed as overweight. Being overweight or obese is recognised as a contributory factor towards the development of type 2 diabetes.
Around two thirds of adults in the UK and US are now classed as overweight. Before 1980, significantly less than half of adults were overweight in these countries. Meanwhile, in developing countries, the prevalence of overweight adults has quadrupled over a 28 year period from 1980 to 2008 and is likely to carry on growing.
One of the report’s authors Steve Wiggins cites a growing reliance on processed convenience foods as a large part of the problem: “People with higher incomes have the ability to choose the kind of foods they want. Changes in lifestyle, the increasing availability of processed foods, advertising, media influences… have all led to dietary changes.”
The authors state that governments should try to make healthy diets viable and list South Korea as an example country in which public campaigns have focused on healthy home cooking. This approach contrasts with the UK’s current Change4Life campaign which largely ignores the problems associated with living on a diet of processed foods.

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