North Americans become obese while foreign children starve

By Daniel Francavilla – Global Voices

Is the world experiencing a food shortage? Surprisingly, there is no documented shortage whatsoever. There is, however, a huge imbalance in the distribution of food. In fact, the average American consumes as much food as 32 Kenyans do.

In 2005, Health Canada confirmed that obesity rates in Canada have nearly doubled among adults and nearly tripled among children over the past 25 years. Now, one quarter of Canadians are considered obese. This is obviously not positive. So why is it happening?

Dr. Jill Hamilton, MD, FRCPC, who is a staff physician in the Division of Endocrinology at the Hospital for Sick Children and an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto explains that, “the rising incidence of obesity over the past 25 years is clearly not related to changes in genes, but rather to changes in the environment, such as increased consumption of highly dense caloric foods and decreased physical activity.”

The opposite of obesity, in this case, is malnutrition. Strangely, both of these severe health concerns are popular in the world today. To clarify, the World Health Organization explains that malnutrition is both a medical and a social disorder, often rooted in poverty.

The book Stuffed and Starved by Raj Patel explores the strange situation that we are facing. Right now, there are one billion people who are malnourished and nearly one billion who are overweight. Does anyone else notice an imbalance?

Evidently, people worldwide must rethink their approach to nutrition. It is not simply about calories, but the nutritional quality and quantity of the foods consumed that makes a difference. “This is where major changes need to happen in both developed and developing countries, to try to reverse the problems of both obesity and malnutrition,” adds Dr. Hamilton.

North Americans must become aware of this crucial disproportion that is causing thousands of deaths every week. Governments of abundant countries such as Canada and the United States should take action by increasing their foreign aid. Canadian citizens should lead by example, by consuming less and donating more to worthy causes that will make the world a promising place for all people to live.

To view the article on The Toronto Star website, click here.