According to Bloomberg:
Humanity is putting on weight. Across the globe, in wealthy countries and developing nations, among children and adults, an increasing number of people are overweight or obese. Today, nearly 40 percent of the world’s adults fall into one of those categories, according to new estimates by a global network of researchers called the NCD Risk Factor Collaboration.
Economic forces are conspiring to cause the great global weight gain. Countries grow wealthier and increase consumption. People move from rural areas to cities, where they have ready access to inexpensive, processed foods. Machines do work that humans once did, decreasing the amount of energy people use. And global trade means the reach of junk food has never been greater. Up against these trends, no country has figured out how to reverse the rise of obesity.
In 2014, there were 114 countries where more than half the adult population was considered overweight, including much of the Americas, Europe, and the Middle East, according to World Health Organization data. In small Pacific Island nations and Persian Gulf states, more than two-thirds of the population is considered overweight or obese, a higher prevalence than in the United States.
What studies find are, as people move from rural areas to cities, and as countries develop economically, obesity and obesity related illnesses rise. 95% of people who try to reverse this momentum, in the short-term succeed, but in the long-term fail and end up worse than previous.
It is not necessarily economic growth and city life, but what new behaviors come with it, which is convenience, indulgence, and speed. Trying to do things fast and instantly is part of what a city person in a developing economy will try. Speed and convenience is the problem, and we try to solve the problem with more of the same problem. Then individual behaviors must change, we must slow down, take longer to eat, rely less on snack foods and eating on the run, spend time preparing food. (Most "health foods" take 2 minutes to eat and 5 seconds to unwrap.) Walk more, it may be a slower way to get around but it's better for us. Be minimalistic and more austere. Also spending more time outside. (Most workouts promise results in 20 minutes. Therefore, promise, the rest of the day it is okay to be sedentary.) We like to believe we can do it without these behavioral changes, and we try, and we believe it can work, even though the statistics keep telling us it doesn't.
Our health got worse due to behavior changes. Why wouldn't we assume the solution is changing these behaviors back to something healthier? How can current methods be considered "healthy" when all they do is reinforce our unhealthy behaviors of speed and voracity? Rather than less, less, less, we are told, more, more, more. But we were consuming more to begin with, that's the problem in the first place. Because truth doesn't care what we believe and it is not sensitive to our feelings, the more we do it, the more we try the "new and easy" way, the more these statistics will go up. Which is why the author states, there seems nothing we can do to stop it. Though I would like to correct it to: there seems nothing we WILL do to stop it.
My name is Sam Yang. I'm a martial artist, entrepreneur, fitness nerd, information geek, and productivity nut. For more useful information, join my newsletter. You can also connect to All Out Effort on Facebook and Twitter. For more philosophical posts, check out Must Triumph