No longer just a problem in developed countries, obesity is now a critical health issue in places we are more likely to associate with malnourishment.
In South Africa, hundreds of thousands of blacks migrated from rural areas to townships in the early 90s, as Apartheid-era restrictions on movement came to an end. Rural people still flock to cities. Similar migrations take place across the developing world. And often, the small amount of extra money gained by living in the city does not lead to improved health. It often means adding fat to the family dinner. Doctors are worried not just about the sheer number of obese people in South Africa and other developing nations. They’re concerned about the deadliness of obesity here. It turns out that obesity may be especially dangerous in adults who were malnourished as children.
Finland has shown that people's eating habits can be radically improved. The trick - changing what kind of food the public is exposed to. The government begand funding research into healthier foods, it phased out subsidies to milk producers and introduced subsidies for new products.
Singapore has achieved remarkable success in its fight against childhood obesity. The proportion of school-age children classified by the government as obese has fallen from 14% to 9% in the past 15 years. During that same period, just about everywhere else in Asia has seen childhood obesity rise. Public health experts from around the world are studying Singapore’s approach as a possible model to be replicated.
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