A Scan of Critical World Developments
Countries that pursue conventional economic “development” replicate its diseases. A striking example is the soaring rates of obesity in children and adolescents, which has risen more than tenfold since 1975. Nearly 6% of girls (50 million) and 8% of boys (74 million) worldwide are now characterized as obese, as the incidence mounts in East Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa, and remains acute in high-income countries. Processed food companies that market heavily to children are among those to blame for this public health crisis. As are policymakers: various and sundry national food and agricultural policies increase the price of healthy foods and make them less accessible to low-income families. At the same time, hunger, a disease of underdevelopment, persists, with 75 million girls and 117 million boys worldwide moderately or severely underweight. All the forms of malnourishment, from hunger to obesity, are diseases of poverty and inequality. The ultimate cure lies in the struggle for more equitable societies.