Obesity: The Globalization of Fast Food:
A Doctor's Personal Insight
25 years ago a doctor who traveled throughout Central America was amazed at not seeing any fat or obese people. The people looked vibrant and healthy, fast foods had not entered those countries and the people walked and ate 'real food'. Recently upon return, the doctor could hardly find those who were slim and in shape, it was as if the entire culture had changed and the people looked sick and lethargic.
To him, it was a clear indication that processed/fast foods had become a very tragic reality, directed to the young and setting them up for a lifetime pattern of health issues and an early death.
When it comes to globalization of the fast food culture it was American fast food restaurants such as McDonald's, Burger King and Kentucky Fried Chicken who were able to transcend international borders and cultures and eventually find their way into the major cities of Europe, Asia, Africa and South America.
Today you would be hard pressed not to find a McDonald's or a Burger King in Paris, Munich, Tokyo, Seoul, Moscow, Cairo or Caracas.
In Latin America for example, it was estimated that between the years 1990 to 2008 that in a span of 18 years the obesity rates in certain targeted cities grew at an alarming rate.
Mexico City 31 percent
Santiago Chile, 26.6 percent
Barquisimeto, Venezuela 25.1 percent
Lima, Peru 22.3 percent
Buenos Aries, Argentina 19.7 percent
Bogota, Colombia 18 percent
Quito, Ecuador 16.3 percent
(Source. American Journal of Medicine 2008)
This whole issue of American Globalization of fast foods has long been a concern with nutritionists. For example, in his book titled "Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser (2002) stated "By eating like Americans people all over the world are beginning to look more like Americans, at least in one respect. The United States has one of the highest obesity rates of any industrialized nation in the world." (p.240). "As people eat more meals outside the home, they consume more calories, less fiber and more fat."(241).
The World Health Organization has even entered the discussion by stating "within the next few years, the shift towards highly refined foods and towards meet and dairy products containing high levels of saturated fats...[will] contribute to a rise in incidences of obesity." (2002).