THE BLOG

Is Our Planet Earth Now Technically Obese?

30/01/2015 12:17 GMT | Updated 31/03/2015 10:59 BST

Crippling statistics have been released by McKinsey* about the state of world health in relation to levels of obesity. A staggering 30% of the world is now obese.

Give or take a few kilos, a whopping 1 in 3 people is said to be obese. The research suggests the cost of obesity is around the same as armed conflict or smoking, greater than alcoholism and climate change.

Obesity is a pandemic affliction but we've paid lip service to it whilst continuing to consume. Were it Ebola, we'd have eradicated it by now. Shocking and shameful.

Obesity is the result of our choices around food types and quantities. Responsibility can be conveniently apportioned only at an individual level, whilst insidiously oiling its wheels underneath all this, a collusion of cartels, institutions and governments irresponsibly perpetuating the provision of such foods in pursuit of the corporate coffer and world stage influence.

Our health services are straining at the seams, expenditures in the red, health trusts constantly juggling budgets and resources to cope with the ever-increasing levels of multiple illnesses that go hand in hand with obesity.

Yet WHY aren't:

• We marching the streets in outrage

• The supermarkets bowing their heads in shame

• Governments leading the charge

• Food chain giants scurrying to rethink their responsibilities towards mankind's meals

Has the world put its head in the sand, or more aptly in the sugar?

The McKinsey report predicts that by 2030, a jaw-dropping 50% of people will be obese. The implications, the utter madness, not to say the costs of accommodating a society of such literal magnitude are immense.

People are literally eating themselves to death and yet the food still comes, ready made, enticingly packaged, calorifically loaded, nutritionally imbalanced and proportionately mountainous.

Does it all boil (or fry) down to the fact that society doesn't look at the bigger picture but instead focuses on paddling one's own self-interested, personal gain canoe at the expense of another? Have things got so bad that corporations don't give two hoots about what happens to others from their own decisions and actions?

The debate targeted at the individual's willpower to control their appetite is correct, but not the full picture. Take the latest show on BBC* - it's our DNA that is making us obese! Begs the question then why hasn't obesity been a world issue since for centuries?

And what of the food business, one that has a coffee shop on every corner, sweets, crisps and sugar-fuelled drinks vying for attention at petrol station check outs, eight till late or 7-11 convenience stores to pander to our every food craving.

How have we allowed the concept of global brand expansion and domination to bring about humanity's health downfall in such a spectacular way and at alarming speed?

Where to start with responsibility on such a massive subject, yet alone on resolving the crisis itself?

It requires a massive root and branch undertaking - Responsibility from food manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, supermarkets, schools, parents, restaurants, celebrity chefs, tv, advertisers, shareholders, right through to weight management, eating disorders, nutritional education, hospitals, clinics, surgeries...

Imagine you're an alien touching down on Earth in 2150. You check your alien intergalactic history app-equivalent to identify what brought about man's downfall. Your finding: not a meteorite or a deadly bug, but - 'the way we ate'. Our diet. What we chose to put in our mouths. Every time, over time. Causing world bankruptcy. A particularly skewed form of self-genocide. It must be a planetary first.

Come 2030 we may well indeed have a bankrupt world. That would, ironically, be a great leveller, but at what cost to humanity? One shudders to imagine.

Where did we go so wrong that we completely changed the purpose of our relationship with food from a source of nourishment to one of solace, comfort, entertainment, relief? How arrogant have we become by choosing to override our own perfectly tuned internal knowledge for the sake of that 'moment on the lips'

We each have our part to play in this equation. Add corporate greed, shareholder value, mixed with food scarcity and sustainability we have All been driving the bus, to the detriment of mankind's health.

We've not been calling obesity for what it is - one of the biggest travesties to befall mankind.

We have wittingly sanctioned the inexorable decline of our nations' - indeed our world's health instead of clamouring to those developing countries and emerging markets to keep their indigenous healthy diet rather than competing in the real estate wars for the A1 retail position for the latest fast food outlet.

Responsibility is to be found at all choice points in the food chain; what we put in our mouth, what we buy, how much we eat, where we buy it, what and how we're choosing to sell, manufacture, grow.

We should be using our biggest voting power - the individual purse, to say no to everything harming the body. It's our right, our natural way of being. When we override that, in pursuit of a short-lived gustatory theme park experience in the mouth, is that not the first step in overriding what we know to be true?

Obesity is now a colossal issue, one of our own making and it is going to take generations to put right. We have no time to wait and yet so much (weight) to lose.

http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/economic_studies/how_the_world_could_better_fight_obesity

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p02ddsv0/whats-the-right-diet-for-you-a-horizon-special-episode-1)