World Food Report Reveals Obesity And Diabetes On The Rise In USA

Tara Dodrill - Author

Mar. 5 2014, Updated 1:57 p.m. ET

The World Food Systems report judged the food systems in 125 different countries. Each nation was scored based upon four different major metrics: affordability of food, food quality, abundance of food, and the eating habits of citizens. The systems report was issued by the international advocacy confederation of Oxfam.The United States is now placed in the 21st position on the World Foods Systems ranking chart.

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The stated goal of the report was to create a snapshot of the most recent and pertinent worldwide statistics on food challenges, foo conditions, and ways in which to combat obstacles to obtaining affordable healthy food. “The looming squeeze on natural resources, particularly land and water, and the gathering pace of climate change are set to make this worse,” the report stated. The document went on to state that one in eight people go to sleep each night hungry, even though there is enough food to sustain the masses. The misuse of resources, over-consumption, and waster were the noted common elements posing problems for food systems in nations around the world.

The United States’ food systems score was significantly and adversely affected by both the high obesity and diabetes rate, according to the report. Twenty European nations and Australia all ranked above America. The quality of food category included considerations for the “nutritionally diverse food options” and access to clean and safe drinking water. In this category, the United States and Australia tied for fourth place. Ireland scored the highest in this ranking, followed by Switzerland and the Netherlands.

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The Netherlands scored the highest on the annual list, followed by France and Switzerland, which tied for second place. African nations largely comprised the bottom half of the list, with Chad scoring the lowest. Mexico and Canada tied for 25th place. China weighed in at 57th place. Saudi Arabia scored the worst in the diabetes category. A total of 18 percent of the population is diabetes and a third of the country is obese, according to the report. Kuwait scored at the bottom on the obesity chart, with a total of 42 percent of the population being vastly overweight. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the United States scored second highest in the obesity category. The obesity of levels in both developing and middle-income nations nearly mirror one another. The combined scored for the Unhealthy Eating and Enough to Eat categories revealed that Japan and the Republic of Korea came out the best.

America earned the top score for affordability of food.The volatility of food price inflation was a major consideration for scores in this category as well. Processed frozen food and non-organic meat and produce are staples in poor rural areas and in food desert areas, meaning that access to non-GMO and all-natural food products often involves growing it yourself or paying top dollar at an out-of-the supermarket. Saudi Arabia scored the worst on the unhealthy eating scale. Kuwait had the bottom score in the obesity column.

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A lack of investment in small scale agriculture and infrastructure were noted among the problems in developing countries. Climate change was often cited as a reason for lack of food, but not additional details regarding how the so-called global warming weather fluctuations had negatively impacted crop production were presented. The food systems index also cited “prohibitive trade agreements” and biofuels targets” such as those reportedly established in the European Union, as part of the reason why crops are not making their way from “dinner tables to fuel tanks.”

An excerpt from the food systems report reads:

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“Despite the huge technological advances of modern times, we are still failing to provide people with the basic sustenance they need to survive and eat healthily. This index shows how it is a phenomenon felt most starkly in poor countries, but not exclusively. Few countries deserving of silver service status, with obesity, food prices and nutrition rates undermining the records of many of the richest countries – a burden which often weights heaviest on their poorest citizens.”

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How do you feel about the World Food Systems report findings?

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