Growing concern in more ways than one

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Finally it’s not just a North American disease. That’s all the more reason to think hard about ways to address the growing condition of obesity.

On the subject of growing waistlines, the discussion had often focused on Canadians and Americans, among whom the tendency has been especially widespread. Speculation included affluence, the prevalence of fast foods and a general lack of education that sees people eating far too much fat, sugar and other refined carbohydrates.

But in a report released last week, researchers said more than two billion people worldwide – close to a third of the population – are overweight or obese.

The study’s leader, Christopher Murray of the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, said there’s a link between higher income and obesity in developing countries. That trend is the reverse, if only slightly, in developed countries – presumably education on health and diet matters is a factor.

We all know that putting on the pounds has far more implications than just having to buy a new wardrobe. Obesity is linked to many health conditions, such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

On this subject, the discussion often turns to calls for food manufacturers and restaurants to cut down on fat, sugar and salt content in what they offer.

That indeed is an endeavour worth pursuing. But along with some regulations, more could be done to educate people about what they eat and the implications of unwholesome foods.

Schools could help. Locally, for example, we see schools such as West Pictou Consolidated, which embarks on a gardening project each spring so students can get a grasp on the production of healthy foods.

No doubt seeing first hand how it’s done and having a hand in the garden fosters a greater appreciation for healthy, unadulterated fare. This kind of extracurricular activity along with more formal instruction on nutrition would go a long way toward encouraging healthier habits.

Organizations: North American, Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington West Pictou Consolidated

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