Developing countries will get sick before they get rich

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Improved human well-being is one of the modern era’s greatest triumphs. The age of plenty has also led to an unexpected global health crisis: two billion people are either overweight or obese. Developed countries have been especially susceptible to unhealthy weight gain, a trend that could be considered the price of abundance. However, developing countries are now facing a similar crisis.

Obesity rates have plateaued in high income countries but are accelerating elsewhere. The combined findings of UNICEF, the World Health Organisation and the World Bank showed that in 2016 Asia was home to half the world’s overweight children. One quarter were in Africa.

Residents of developing nation cities are increasingly susceptible to obesity, particularly amid the mega-trends of urbanization, globalization, and industrialization of food supply. According to India’s National Institute of Nutrition, over a quarter of urban-dwelling men and nearly half of women are overweight.

The majority of the world’s future urbanization is projected to occur in developing countries, particularly in Asia and Africa. As rural dwellers move to urban areas, easy access to cheap and convenient processed foods lures them into unhealthy diets.

Photo courtesy of Igor Ovsyannykov.

Source: Quartz Africa (link opens in a new window)

Health Care
global development, nutrition, public health, urban development