May 20, 2020

America Exports Obesity Across The World Through Fast Food Corporations

“The result is big brand food corporations filling up on profits, meanwhile their newest customers are getting hooked on high calorie meals and global obesity rates are rising.” – Shreen Khan, AJ+

Americans, being the first victims of the fast food industry, have already began to rebel against daily high-calorie processed meals and turn to healthier choices.

This has forced major corporations to outsource the obesity they produce to countries around the world, not just America. Unfortunately, many people around the world have either been uninformed or misinformed about the catastrophic health complications of consuming fast food on a regular basis.

This had led to a global obesity crisis inspired by the entire planet adopting an American style of eating.

GHANA

“Ghana, a coastal African country of more than 28 million still etched with pockets of extreme poverty, has enjoyed unprecedented national prosperity in the last decade, buoyed by offshore oil. Though the economy slowed abruptly not long ago, it is rebounding and the signs of new fortune are evident: millions moving to cities for jobs, shopping malls popping up and fast food roaring in to greet people hungry for a contemporary lifestyle.

Chief among the corporate players is KFC, and its parent company, YUM!, which have muscled northward from South Africa — where KFC has about 850 outlets and a powerful brand name — throughout sub-Saharan Africa: to Angola, Tanzania, Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Ghana and beyond. The company brings the flavors that have made it popular in the West, seasoned with an intangible: the symbolic association of fast food with rich nations.

But KFC’s expansion here comes as obesity and related health problems have been surging. Public health officials see fried chicken, french fries and pizza as spurring and intensifying a global obesity epidemic that has hit hard in Ghana — one of 73 countries where obesity has at least doubled since 1980. In that period, Ghana’s obesity rates have surged more than 650 percent, from less than 2 percent of the population to 13.6 percent, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, an independent research center at the University of Washington.”

Source: Obesity Was Rising As Ghana Embraced Fast Food, Then Came KFC – New York Times

KUWAIT

“According to World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, Kuwait is ranked amongst the top countries in the world in obesity prevalence. This study aims to describe the prevalence of overweight, obesity, and various types of adiposity in Kuwaiti adults….

…In conclusion, our findings highlight the major challenge facing Kuwait, similarly to other countries in the Gulf region, in controlling the obesity epidemic in this region. Being overweight or obese is the norm rather than an exception amongst Kuwaitis. Public health action to decrease overweight and obesity in Kuwait are urgently needed.

The long-term health consequences and economic burden of obesity in the Kuwaiti society and health care system will likely be overwhelming in the decades to come. Recommendations on physical activity and healthy diet were discussed at the conference on Healthy Lifestyles and Non-Communicable Diseases in the Arab World and the Middle East in 2012 and included in the Riyadh declaration (36), but these recommendations have not yet been fully implemented.

As Kuwaiti adults rank amongst the highest for diabetes burden in the world, life-course weight waist circumference monitoring may be considered as a population-level intervention. Primary health care should aim at helping individuals avoid becoming obese, or losing weight, as needed. Monitoring of body weight and waist circumference should necessarily be followed by nutritional and lifestyle education and support.”

Source: The Prevalence of Overweight and Obesity in an Adult Kuwaiti Population in 2014 (Frontiers In Endocrinology)

MEXICO

“Obesity has reached epidemic proportions, in the United States as well as among its trade partners such as Mexico. It has been established that an “obesogenic” (obesity-causing) food environment is one influence on obesity prevalence.

To isolate the particular role of NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, in changing Mexico’s food environment, we plotted the flow of several key products between the United States and Mexico over the 14-year NAFTA period (1994-2008) and situated them in a broader historical context.

Key sources of USDA data include the Foreign Agricultural Service’s Global Agricultural Trade System, its official repository for current and historical data on imports, exports and re-exports, and its Production, Supply, and Distribution online database.

US export data were queried for agricultural products linked to shifting diet patterns including: corn, soybeans, sugar and sweeteners, consumer-oriented products, and livestock products. The Bureau of Economic Analysis’ Balance of Payments and Direct Investment Position Data in their web-based International Economic Accounts system also helped determine changes in US direct investment abroad from 1982 to 2009.

Directly and indirectly, the United States has exported increasing amounts of corn, soybeans, sugar, snack foods, and meat products into Mexico over the last two decades. Facilitated by NAFTA, these exports are one important way in which US agriculture and trade policy influences Mexico’s food system.

Because of significant US agribusiness investment in Mexico across the full spectrum of the latter’s food supply chain, from production and processing to distribution and retail, the Mexican food system increasingly looks like the industrialized food system of the United States.”

Source: Exporting Obesity: US Farm and Trade Policy and the Transformation of the Mexican Consumer Food Environment (Pub Med Study)