|A Widening Problem
In a historical first, there are now as many overnourished people as undernourished around the world. Here's the recipe for obesity on such a global scale: Take technologycars, washing machines, elevatorsthat reduces physical exertion. Increase calorie consumption, courtesy of increasing prosperity. Add television and video games. Stir in the intensive marketing of candy and fast food, and you have the makings of an epidemic. In countries where the food supply has been unstable, people are getting fat despite far less abundance than in the United States. The implication? Newly industrialized nations in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America may develop even higher rates of obesity-related health problems than in the U.S.
States with the highest obesity ratesMississippi and Alabamaare in the South. The more affluent and outdoorsy western states of Colorado and Utah have the lowest rates.
As Latin America becomes more developed, supermarkets stocked with processed foods have become the norm, rising from 20 percent of food retail during the 1980s to 60 percent in 2000.
Candy, fast food, and sweetened cereals account for more than half the food ads in ten European Union nations. In the U.K. snack food consumption rose nearly 25 percent in five years.
In some parts of Africa obesity afflicts more children than malnutrition. In Tunisia the urban population is shifting from traditional healthy whole grain breads to white bread.
In Shanghai, roads once filled with pedestrians and cyclists are now congested with cars. KFC opened a drive-through restaurant in Beijing in 2002, with more to come.
Pacific Islanders have always valued hefty physiques. Now their shift away from local foods to a high-fat, Western diet has made them among the world's fattest people.
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