Wednesday, July 11, 2012

World Population: America Significantly Outweighs Asia

As the West frets about population growth in the developing world on World Population Day today,  it's also important to understand the impact of growing obesity on the planet.

Asia has 61 per cent of the world's population but only 13 per cent of the world's weight. In contrast, Americans make up only five per cent of the world's population but account for a third of the world's weight due to obesity, according to a recently published research paper.

 The researchers calculated the average global body weight at 137 pounds, but in North America the average was 178 pounds, while in Asia it was 57.7kg (127lb). In their report, the researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine worked out the weight of the global population at 287 million tonnes. They estimate that 15 million tons of this mass is due to people being overweight, and 3.5 million tons due to obesity.




The researchers found that Americans and Arabs are among the heaviest while Asians and sub-Saharan Africans are the lightest in weight.  It takes only 12.2 Americans to add up to a ton of weight while it takes 20.2 Bangladeshis to equal a ton of weight. The top ten heaviest include US (12.2) , Kuwait (12.19), Croatia (13.1), Qatar (13.0), Egypt (13.5), UAE (13.2), Trinidad & Tobago (13.8), Argentina (13.8), Greece (13.3) and Bahrain (13.6). The lightest include North Korea (19.0), Cambodia (17.9), Burundi (18.5), Nepal (19.8), Congo (18.7), Bangladesh (20.2), Sri Lanka (19.8), Ethiopia (18.9), Vietnam (19.7) and Eritrea (19.2).  Indians and Pakistanis do not show up in either of the two groups.

 In terms of average BMI (Body Mass Index), Pakistanis and Chinese are at 23, Indians 21 and Bangladeshis 20.5, all within normal range of 18.5 to 24.9. The average values of BMI for Europe, Middle East and North and South America are much higher.


One of the authors of the paper, Professor Ian Roberts, told the BBC: "When people think about environmental sustainability, they immediately focus on population. Actually, when it comes down to it, it’s not how many mouths there are to feed, it is how much flesh there is on the planet." "If every country in the world had the same level of fatness that we see in the USA, in weight terms that would be like an extra billion people of world average body mass," he added.

Source: Wall Street Journal
“We do not move our bodies so much but we are biologically programmed to eat,” Roberts told the Daily Telegraph. "We often point the finger at poor women in Africa having too many babies. But we've also got to think of this fatness thing; it's part of the same issue of exceeding our planetary limits."

 Americans are beginning to recognize and respond to the obesity epidemic by promoting healthier alternatives to fattening fast foods in school lunches and by encouraging greater physical activity. Unfortunately, Asians are moving in the opposite direction. Recent launch of Fatburger chain of restaurants in Pakistan is just one symptom of the rapid growth of American sugared drinks and fast food in Asian nations.

Given the fact that South Asians are known to be genetically predisposed to obesity-related diseases like diabetes and heart diseases, the growth of American fast food in Asia could spell disaster. It's time for the local health officials to start tackling obesity before it becomes an epidemic further straining the already inadequate and overburdened health care systems in India and Pakistan.

Here's a video of a recent TV discussion on population:


Related Links:

Haq's Musings

India's Rising Population & Depleting Resources

Music Drives Coke Sales in Pakistan

FMCG Consumption Boom in Pakistan

Disease Burdens in India and Pakistan

Health Risks Rising- Bunge in Pakistan

6 comments:

Pavan said...

So the rest of the world with 39% of population and 87% weight could be consuming approximately eight times the food? Based on weight to population ratio.

Riaz Haq said...

Pavan: "So the rest of the world with 39% of population and 87% weight could be consuming approximately eight times the food? Based on weight to population ratio."

The difference in daily food intake is about 500 calories per capita, 2400 in Asia vs 2900 in America & Europe. The non-Asians, particularly Western nations, also consume more resources per capita in general at least partly due to their larger weight.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a recent news report on underweight and stunted children in South Asia:

Of all South Asian nations, Sri Lanka has the lowest number of underweight and stunted children, World Bank’s South Asia Region Human Development Unit’s senior nutrition specialist Nkosinathi Mbuya said.

He said 22 percent of Sri Lankan children aged up to five, are underweight while the prevalence rates of underweight children are 33 percent in Afghanistan, 41 percent in Bangladesh, 43 percent in India, 39 percent in Nepal and 31 percent in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, 18 percent of Sri Lankan children aged up to five are stunted while it is 59 percent in Afghanistan, 43 percent in Bangladesh, 48 percent in India, 49 percent in Nepal and 42 percent in Pakistan. However, the stunting levels in tea estates are the highest (42 percent). Hence the government should intervene to improve nutrition levels in children, adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women in tea estates through community-based nutrition programmes targetting these areas, Mbuya said. He also praised the Sri Lankan government’s efforts to establish the National Nutrition Council in Sri Lanka.

“The President and the government should be praised for their assistance in eradicating malnutrition among children. Sri Lanka is the only country which has such a Council. It is the one and only institution chaired by the head of state in the entire world,” Mbuya said. Making a special presentation on the challenges of nutrition in South Asia at the South Asia Journalists’ Nutrition Workshop on the theme ‘reporting on nutrition’, in Kathmandu, Nepal recently, Mbuya said exclusive breastfeeding, proper complementary feeding and maternal nutrition are the main causes for decline in child malnutrition.

“This approach would facilitate healthy growth and development,” he said.

The workshop was convened by the World Bank and facilitated by Thomson-Reuters.


http://www.dailynews.lk/2012/06/27/news02.asp

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET story on Pakistan's rising food & clothing consumption:

Pakistanis are increasingly spending more and more money on food and clothing, and it is not just because prices are rising: the data now shows that they are buying higher volumes, particularly in food.

In an analysis conducted by The Express Tribune using data generated by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, it is becoming increasingly evident that even though prices of food and clothing have skyrocketed over the past decade, the ability of most Pakistanis to keep buying has – for the most part – kept pace (though for some income groups, that has come at the expense of their ability to save).

Between 2002 and 2011, food prices have increased at an average rate of about 11.2%. Spending on food, however, has risen by over 12% per year during that same period. That may not sound like much of a difference, but that means that the average household consumes 6.8% more food than it did a decade ago. Factor in the fact that the average household size has declined during that time and one gets the following statistic: the average Pakistani consumed 17.2% more food in 2011 than they did in 2002.

This massive expansion of food consumption, meanwhile, has fuelled a boom in the sector. Food companies listed on the Karachi Stock Exchange saw their revenues more than double between 2006 and 2010. During that same period, their pre-tax profits more than tripled.

An increased sign of prosperity is also the fact that Pakistanis now buy more meat: expenditure on meat, fish and poultry now constitutes about 10% of all spending on food, up from 9.3% a decade ago. The fastest rise has been in poultry. Pakistanis have increased their per capita consumption of chicken by about 130% during this past decade. This is despite the fact that prices of chicken have shot up 120% during that same period.

It is this dual expansion of per capita consumption and prices that has resulted in the more visible competition among food companies to advertise their products to consumers.

The story in clothing and footwear expenditures is also interesting. The difference in total spending and price rises, at first glance does not appear to be much. Between 2002 and 2011, spending on clothes and footwear rose by 7.4% per year, while prices rose by 7.2% per year. Yet, given the decrease in household size, the per capita volume of clothes bought by Pakistanis increased by nearly 11% during that period.

The fortunes of clothing companies have similarly soared. Between 2006 and 2010, the local sales revenues of clothing manufacturers listed on the Karachi Stock Exchange jumped by an average of 29% per year, much faster than even their own export sales, which rose by about 22% per year during that period. Profits have more than quadrupled during that time.
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There has also been a very significant change in buying behaviour: the fastest increase in demand has been for readymade clothing, with a decline in the relative importance of tailored clothes. The average demand for such clothes has increased by an astonishing 81% during the past decade, which suggests that far more Pakistani consumers prefer the convenience of buying off the rack rather than spending time haggling with tailors.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/414820/food-and-clothing-prices-keep-rising-but-consumption-rises-faster/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a News story on rising obesity in Pakistan:

KARACHI: The obesity is an emerging challenge to human well-being like other parts of the world, it was also on the increase in Pakistan.



The overweight and obesity are the fifth leading risk for global deaths.



The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates suggest that 26 percent of women and 19 percent of men in Pakistan are obese. Women are 2-3 times more likely to be obese.Childhood obesity is increasing with an estimated value of 10 percent.



This was stated by Prof Dr Muhammad Iqbal Choudhary, Director International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), Karachi University.



He was delivering a lecture on Wednesday at the 4th International Symposium-Cum-Training Course on Molecular Medicine and Drug Research being held at the International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS).



Over 350 scientists, including 35 scientists from 24 countries, are attending the international event, organised by Dr Panjwani Center for Molecular Medicine and Drug Research (PCMD), University of Karachi.



Dr. Iqbal said that obesity had become a serious health problem worldwide, which is a result of an imbalance between energy intake and expenditure; the molecular cascade involves in obesity and associated disorders are not fully understood.



Proliferation of adipocytes plays an important role in the onset and progression of obesity, he added.



`Obesity has been linked to several serious health ailments like heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer.



Overweight and obesity are major risk factors for a number of chronic diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer; once considered a problem only in high income countries, overweight and obesity are now on the rise in low and middle-income countries.



Overweight and obesity are largely preventable; the intake of healthier foods, and regular physical activity are easiest ways to prevent obesity, he said.



There is an urgent need to have R&D programme in the field of anti-obesity drug discovery and development, he urged, saying that the fundamental causes of obesity are an increased intake of energy-dense foods that are high in fat, salt and sugars but low in vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients; and a decrease in physical activity due to the increasingly sedentary nature of many forms of work, changing modes of transportation and increasing urbanization.



Talking about the multi-drug-resistant pathogens, he said that a rapid decline in research and development on new antibiotics coincides with increasing frequency of infections caused by multi-drug-resistant pathogens.



The key reason of bacterial resistance is the indiscriminate of suboptimal use of antibiotics. During the last three days of the symposium, various lectures of the national and international scientists were held on different scientific issues.


http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-83095-Obesity-on-the-increase-in-Pakistan

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a WSJ report on Mexican surpassing US in obesity:

MEXICO CITY—Congress's lower house of Congress passed late Thursday a special tax on junk food that is seen as potentially the broadest of its kind, part of an ambitious Mexican government effort to contain runaway rates of obesity and diabetes.

The House passed the proposed measure to charge a 5% tax on packaged food that contains 275 calories or more per 100 grams, on grounds that such high-calorie items typically contain large amounts of salt and sugar and few essential nutrients.

The tax, which was proposed just this week, is sure to stir controversy among big Mexican and foreign food companies that operate here. It comes on top of another planned levy on sugary soft drinks of 1 peso (8 U.S. cents) per liter that was passed by the same committee, an effort that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg supported.

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The taxes—both aimed at curbing consumption—have broad political support and were expected to later be approved by the Senate as part of a sweeping tax overhaul. The snack food levy is part of a bigger tax proposal from President Enrique Peña Nieto which aims to raise the government's non-oil tax collections.

The taxes would put Mexico, a country notorious for its love of sweets, fried foods and pastries, on the cutting edge of government efforts to cut obesity rates.

"This appears to be the most aggressive strategy anywhere in the world in recent years to improve diets via tax disincentives," said Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington.

Harold Goldstein, executive director of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, called Mexico a role model, saying that the measures could protect the health of consumers while also shielding the economy from productivity losses and runaway public health costs.

Seven of 10 adults in Mexico, and a third of children, are either overweight or obese. Mexicans have now surpassed Americans for the title of the fattest country in the OECD, according to the organization.

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A Mexico City street food vendor selling packaged items Thursday. Laurence Iliff

All that fat has contributed to an alarming rise in chronic illnesses like adult-onset Type 2 diabetes, which afflicts an estimated 15% of Mexicans over the age of 20, the highest rate for any country with more than 100 million inhabitants. Illnesses related to excess weight cost the Mexican public health system more than $3 billion a year, according to the legislation.

On virtually every street corner in Mexico, makeshift stands sell the types of packaged items that will be taxed for the first time: potato chips, cookies, ice cream, fried corn chips, chocolates, candy, puddings and local sweets.

"We're a country of malnourished fatsos," José Antonio Álvarez Lima, a former state governor turned newspaper columnist told Mexican political news website Animal Politico. He pegged part of the blame for Mexico's high consumption of soda and snacks on incessant TV advertisements and poor education.

Mexico is Latin America's biggest consumer per-capita of sweet and savory snacks, and the world's top consumer of pastries, according to Euromonitor International, a consultancy.

Those habits have helped turn Mexico City-based Grupo Bimbo, the owner of U.S. brand Sara Lee, into a global leader in packaged foods. The country is also an enormous source of revenue for processed snack-making multinationals like PepsiCo Inc., owner of the popular Mexican potato chip maker Sabritas. Neither company responded to requests for comment.
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http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304864504579141462546165166?mod=e2fb