Global Scan

We're all getting fatter — and nowhere in the world is immune


A participant of the "Your Weight in Gold" contest has his weight recorded in Dubai September 3, 2013. The Dubai government launched a 30-day weight-loss challenge last year, paying residents in gold for losing extra pounds as part of a government campaign to fight growing obesity.


Ahmed Jadallah/Reuters

Americans have been talking about their weight problem for a while now.

But, it turns out, in the past 33 years, not a single country has reduced its rate of obesity. All told, about 30 percent of humanity, some 2.1 billion people, are either overweight or obese. But obesity doesn't affect everyone in the same ways. In the developed world, for example, more men are obese or overweight than women. The opposite is true in the developing world.

Time magazine looks at some other notable statistics about our increasingly bulging world.

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Is one of Syria's latest suicide bombers an American? 

US officials are looking into whether a man using the nom de guerre Abu Hurayra al-Amriki is an American — and whether he just became the first American suicide bomber in Syria. Since Sunday, al-Qaeda-linked social media accounts have been buzzing with an account of a successful suicide bombing operation carried out by four men, including this one American. Vice looks at the proliferation of foreign fighters among the extremist rebel groups in Syria.

Meanwhile, PRI's The World is asking what it means that now Americans are going to Syria and taking part in suicide attacks. In an interview, Time's Middle East bureau chief says American officials may be concerned that some of these Americans who go to Syria looking to blow themselves up their in service to jihad may be turned back and convinced to instead press their attack at home in the US.

Boko Haram: Sons of Anarachy

Back in February, GQ magazine took time out of photographing men in suits and overpriced watches and sent a reporter to do detailed coverage on Boko Haram, the Islamist movement which kidnapped hundreds of Nigerian schools girls. The results were remarkable. It's been more than four years since Boko Haram began its rebellion, and their methods are becoming ever more violent and extreme.

In one recent raid by government officials, the discoveries were downright grisly. "We found bodies with their hands tied together, their throats cut. ... Piles of bones; decomposing flesh. On the shelves of the huts, there were jars and containers full of blood that made us think that Boko Haram had cannibalised the bodies."

Imagine a town where almost all the men go blind

PRI's The World traveled to Parán, Peru, recently — a small Andean mountain community where for years, many, many years, almost all of the town's men grow blind by the age of 50. This isn't some environmental disaster story, or a story of bad diets. This is a story of genetics, and one, little-known disease that is ravaging the town. Until recently, no one in the town even knew the disease's name, just that most men would be blind by the time they were 50.

Scientists came to the town recently and diagnosed the problem. Unfortunately, there's nothing they can do. No cure. And for the town, that's almost worse than not knowing why so many people go blind.

What we're seeing on social

Weather around the world

It was a scorcher in east Asia on Thursday, with high temperatures nearing or breaking records in cities from Seoul to Beijing to Shanghai. According to AccuWeather, the high temperature in Beijing Thursday was 108 degrees (42 degrees Celsisus) — the first time the temperature has exceeded 104 since 2010. Highs near 100 are expected through the weekend.

This post is a regular feature of It's a daily brief and email newsletter of stories, events and graphics that are catching the attention of our news staff. The World's Leo Hornak kicks it off from London and various folks on our editorial team around the globe contribute from there, like Cartoon Editor Carol Hills in Boston. Don't expect anything near the standard wrap of major news stories. This blog post and its email companion will be as idiosyncratic as our staff... and we'll want you to tell us what you like and don't like. Sign up for a account and subscribe to our newsletter to get it delivered to your inbox. The newsletter arrives during the US morning hours.