Widening Waistlines Weigh on Developing Cities

Cities across the developing world are dealing more with rising obesity rates as urbanization occurs, reports TheCityFix's Jonna McKone.
January 13, 2011, 7am PST | Tim Halbur
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In cities, the increased consumption of low-cost and accessible processed foods has supplanted more traditional diets that offer a better micronutrients. There are also disparities in access to food, sometimes resulting in urban "food deserts," where food supermarkets are rare, understocked or overpriced, which further encourages or necessitates the need to drive a car in order to eat healthy food. Food advertisements, also more prevalent in cities, are targeted specifically at children, literally feeding the addiction to unhealthy food. What's more, city life can more often mean a family of two income earners that have less time to prepare food for their families.

The transition away from physical labor, too, results in a loss of physical activity and weight gain. But even in rural areas, the rise in obesity is a problem. Farmers, for instance, who use mechanical farm equipment and may grow one type of crop as opposed to a diversity of vegetables, live in isolated areas where there is often easy access to highly processed food.

The number of overweight individuals now rivals the number of underfed people on the globe. The irony of obesity is that "while some of the poor are becoming plumper, they are not necessarily better fed," says the Food and Agriculture organization of the United Nations. "Obesity often masks underlying deficiencies in vitamins and minerals."

Thanks to Garrett Bradford

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Published on Tuesday, January 11, 2011 in TheCityFix
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