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Obesity a Bigger Problem Than Hunger? Come On...

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By Alex Matless

"Obesity bigger health crisis than hunger" booms the CNN headline. They may be right, but something about this article doesn't sit right with me.

OK, so obesity is a massive problem (pun definitely intended), but it's predominantly a Western problem. It's a problem baked out of the modern notion that Chocolate Fudge Pop Tarts are a healthy start to the day and that pouring boiling water into a plastic cup full of flavoured dust and noodles is a quick, easy nutritious meal.

Walk down your local high street (if it hasn't been made a ghost town by the recession, that is) and have a good look at people. It's not hard to see that the world is getting fatter. A lot of children wobble around like Weebles, their parents oblivious to the fact that heart disease, diabetes and an early grave is just a doughnut away.

The thing about obesity is that it's a self-made problem with a self-administered cure - eat less, run about more. Hunger, on the other hand, requires intervention. Of the 870 million people in the world who do not have enough food to eat, 98% of them live in developing countries such as those in Sub-Saharan Africa. The economies of these countries cannot support the population living in poverty, so they rely on outside help from developed Western countries - countries that just can't say no to that second slice of chocolate gateaux.

The solution seems to be so glaringly obvious it must be unrealistic - share the gateaux. If developed countries are eating too much cake and developing countries not enough, surely the simple solution would be to distribute said cake evenly. I'm not an economist or anything, but it seems like a no-brainer to me. Perhaps they don't like cake.

Reading the comment section of the CNN article reveals an insight into the obesity problem. The cost of healthy foods seems to be an issue for most of the commenters. Larry Brown wrote: "Try getting all the food you need for four people for a week on less than $80 and tell the rest of us how cheap healthier foods are.

"They aren't really. The crap is the cheapest which doesn't make sense but that's the way it is".

What strikes me about people complaining about the cost of healthy food is how cheap most fresh produce is compared to processed crap. For example, you can buy 500g of Fresh Chicken Thighs for about £3.50 or you can spend £3.39 on four pieces of frozen Southern Fried Chicken. The issue doesn't seem to be about cost at all, but about how easily a meal can be nuked and on the table.

At the end of the day, everyone has a choice when they shop for food. There are enough choices in a supermarket to be able to eat healthily, even on a budget. It's a question of balance, moderation and good old-fashioned exercise.

So, the next time you start complaining about your jeans getting too tight, put down the sausage roll and spare a thought for those who actually need food.

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