[Marxism] An Unexpected Reason Americans Are Overweight | Alternet
ratbagradio at gmail.com
Fri May 30 20:00:34 MDT 2014
While I'm sure that growth hormones and such are problematical, a
complication with the obesity debate is that it is often skewed by US food
production habits. While the yankees may be the fattest population on the
planet that is changing as a recent Lancet report confirms.
"Worldwide, there has been a startling increase in rates of obesity and
overweight in both adults (28% increase) and children (up by 47%) in the
past 33 years, with the number of overweight and obese people rising from
857 million in 1980 to 2.1 billion in 2013, according to a major new
analysis from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013, published in The
However, the rates vary widely throughout the world with more than half of
the world's 671 million obese individuals living in just ten countries--the
USA (more than 13%), China and India (15% combined), Russia, Brazil,
Mexico, Egypt, Germany , Pakistan, and Indonesia, and (listed in order of
number of obese individuals).
Over the past three decades, the highest rises in obesity levels among
women have been in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Honduras and Bahrain, and
among men in New Zealand, Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the USA.
In high-income countries, some of the highest increases in adult obesity
prevalence have been in the USA (where roughly a third of the adult
population are obese), Australia (where 28% of men and 30% of women are
obese), and the UK (where around a quarter of the adult population are
My point is that explaining this international phenomenon isn't an easy
call, reduced to a few epidemiological elements. That the rise dovetails
with the victories of neoliberalist ideology is an interesting association.
As one commentator remarked:
"Commenting on the implications of the study, Professor Klim McPherson from
Oxford University in the UK writes, "An appropriate rebalancing of the
primal needs of humans with food availability is essential, which would
entail curtailing many aspects of production and marketing for food
industries. To prevent unsustainable health consequences, BMI needs to
return to what it was 30 years ago. Lobstein calculated that to reduce BMI
to 1980 levels in the UK would require an 8% reduction in consumption
across the country, costing the food industry roughly £8*7 billion per
And that, in itself, tells us heaps about the needs of capitalism to not
only engorge us, but foster addictions...separate from issues of industrial
Another feature I think is that with its control over every aspect of our
menu, capitalism has alienated us from our food and the wisdom of
'traditional diets' have been lost. Increasing commodification of food has
reduced it to so many 'stared' or featured components. and the holistic
wisdom of a whole cuisine is being lost. This begins to explain why
indigenous people suffer massive rates of diabetes, heart disease and
obesity in transiting from their traditional tucker to the western diet.
The same phenomenon is being recorded as the Mediterranean diet ('diets'
actually) loses traction in Mediterranean countries.
See background Here:http://dietamediterranea.com/
Indeed when you consider traditional diets -- diets that have some generic
standing measured in hundreds if not thousands of years -- they don't
necessary have many 'components' in common. How much meat, the amount of
starch, or fiber, of seafood, of whatever...varies so much -- ethnicity to
ethnicity/culture to culture, region to region.
I think the food ethnobotanist Gary Nabhan does have a useful argument
when he merges acculturation, diet, environment and genetics.You only have
to consider lactose intolerance as a marker of this prospect., and then
note that the folk like the Turkish peoples, worked around their 30%
penchant by inventing yogurt and how that product is deployed in meals, as
their neighbours may use wine or olives or vinegar. Those of us from a
Celtic background come from a cuisine contained by milk, potatoes, and
oatmeal for three hundred years and from all accounts did pretty well until
the supplies dried up...and we all know about the famine.
But get a load of this. Indians may be diabetes prone (another genetic
"India is bracing for a massive surge in type 2 diabetes, with credible
estimates putting the number of sufferers in the next 20 years at more than
100 million. It is a frightening phenomenon that threatens to overwhelm the
country's health system, according to a leading diabetes specialist in
India. Between them, India and China now have more than half of the world's
type 2 diabetics. "
Then we have the contrary phenomenon that in Cuba during the Special
Period, once dietary deficiencies were covered the health of Cubans
improved during the shortages as their collective weight went down..
"These factors contributed to an average weight reduction per citizen of
5.5kg over the course of the five-year economic crisis. During this time
there was a significant drop in prevalence of, and deaths due to,
cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and cancers.
But once the crisis was over and people started to eat more and exercise
less, these trends began to reverse."
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