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Monday, June 2, 2008

Stuffed and Starved

New Wearable Feedbags Let Americans Eat More, Move Less

In every country, the contradictions of obesity, hunger, poverty and wealth are becoming more acute... A perversity of the way our food comes to us is that it's now possible for people who can't afford enough to eat to be obese

Author Raj Patel addresses our bipolar food crisis in Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System
'Today, when we produce more food than ever before, more than one in ten people on Earth are hungry. The hunger of 800 million happens at the same time as another historical first: that they are outnumbered by the one billion people on this planet who are overweight.'

'Guided by the profit motive, the corporations that sell our food shape and constrain how we eat, and how we think about food. The limitations are clearest at the fast food outlet, where the spectrum of choice runs from McMuffin to McNugget. But there are hidden and systemic constraints even when we feel we're beyond the purview of Ronald McDonald...

'Our choices are not entirely our own because, even in a supermarket, the menu is crafted not by our choices, nor by the seasons, nor where we find ourselves, nor by the full range of apples available, nor by the full spectrum of available nutrition and tastes, but by the power of food corporations.'

'Here's an example: many teenagers in Mexico, a developing country with an average income of US$6,000, are bloated as never before, even as the ranks of the Mexican poor swell. Individual wealth doesn't explain why the children of some families are more obese than others: the crucial factor turns out not to be income, but proximity to the US border. The closer a Mexican family lives to its northern neighbours and to their sugar- and fat-rich processed food habits, the more overweight the family's children are likely to be.

'That geography matters so much rather overturns the idea that personal choice is the key to preventing obesity or, by the same token, preventing hunger.'

'Across the planet, the poor can't afford to eat well. Again, this is true even in the world's richest country; and in the US, it's children who will pay the price. One research team recently suggested that if consumption patterns stay the way they are, today's US children will live five fewer years, because of the diet-related diseases to which they will be exposed in their lifetimes.'

The Guardian recently put together a short video series on the world food crisis: from Cairo, to the Philippines, to the U.K., to China

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