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Surprising Science

Obesity Now Bigger Global Problem than Food Shortage

The most comprehensive report ever on global health concludes that, for the first time, our access to food as a species is more unhealthy than the shortages that have plagued us. 

What’s the Latest Development?

For the first time in global history, adverse health consequences due to excess amounts of food outweigh those that result from food shortages. The data come from the Global Burden of Disease 2010, the most comprehensive report ever on the state of the world’s health. “In 1990, undernutrition was the leading cause of disease burden… Back then, a high body-mass index, or BMI, was ranked tenth. Now, undernutrition has dropped to eighth place, while BMI has risen to become the sixth leading cause of disease burden.”

What’s the Big Idea?

The report confirms that humanity’s struggle against infectious disease has largely been won but that because of increased longevity, people are more likely to die from non-infectious disease, particularly those caused by being overweight. “Being overweight can hike a person’s blood pressure and cause stroke and heart disease; together, these two conditions are responsible for a quarter of all deaths. And the problem isn’t limited to the west – the Middle East is one region that is seeing significant increases in BMI.”

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