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Wednesday 26th October 2016

Obesity 'linked to global economy'

5th August 2008

Obesity researchers searching for medical causes behind the problem need to broaden their outlook to include social science research and adopt a multidisciplinary approach, a Spanish expert has said.


Obesity is linked to changing diet patterns caused by the globalisation of food and agriculture, according to Marta Guadalupe Rivera-Ferre, a researcher from the department of food and animal nutrition at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain.

The worldwide rise in obesity cannot be explained by narrowing the research focus to metabolic and genetic causes of obesity, as the problem has wider socioeconomic dimensions, she says.

Genes and metabolic defects do not account for the huge rising numbers of obese people across the globe, Rivera-Ferre cautioned a session on obesity at the Euroscience Open Forum in Barcelona.

She argued that globalisation of agriculture and trade has led to a new culture of multinational corporations monopolising the processed food industry and retail markets.

People's diets are now increasingly being dictated by products manufactured by large private firms. This, coupled with a more sedentary lifestyle with little exercise for more people, have contributed to the snowballing problem of obesity and overweight worldwide, she said.

Other experts agreed, pointing to a link between changing dietary patterns and obesity in developing countries.

Traditional diets rich in raw foods with minimal processing are being abandoned in favour of processed foods rich in sugars and fats produced by global corporations.

Serious implications for populations exist in African and Asian countries, which are facing a paradoxical form of malnutrition, arising from hunger and over-eating the wrong kind of food.

Liz Young, senior lecturer at the faculty of health and sciences at the University of Staffordshire, United Kingdom, said that studies have found a link between diet transitions in developing countries and obesity.


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