Global nutrition transition and the pandemic of obesity in developing countries

Global nutrition transition and the pandemic of obesity in developing countries

Global nutrition transition and the pandemic of obesity in developing countries


This article is about studying the pandemic of obesity around the globe. The focus of this article looks at many views and aspects of the reasons why we are experiencing this pandemic. Years ago people did not worry or think much about obesity because they didn’t see it very often. The authors of this article pursue the change in diets in the 1970’s. Something has clearly shifted around these times because by the 1980’s it was understood that dietary quality declined, physical activity was declining and obesity was on the rise in the United States. This study shows how the pandemic is not only here at home, but how it has reached rural areas in some of the poorest countries such as Africa and South Asia.


The purpose of this study is to attempt to determine what changes have occurred to cause this rise of obesity. There are reasons for why we are eating the way we do, and moving less then we used to. If we can understand what key factors are playing major roles in this occurrence, then we can attempt to restore this pandemic. This article may provide information regarding future options and changes necessary to overcome this problem.


This is a review article so the authors themselves do not use any techniques and they do not do any of the actual studies. This peer-reviewed journal article takes results and discussions from multiple previous works and combines them to show the probable shifts of the human diet. The key aspects, among many others, these authors reached at are studies done on institutional and large-scale feeding programs, education: labeling and front-of-package initiatives, regulations regarding beverages and food marketing, schools, and country-specific initiatives.


The authors found major shifts in the way humans eat and drink. Major problems are coming from the consumption of processed foods, fast food restaurants, lack of education, and dramatically reduced movement/exercise. The authors see an evolution process occurring that is non beneficial. We need to evolve towards a healthier diet involving less processed food and more nutrient-dense food. Obesity, cancer, and diabetes rates are all on the climb and a big factor of that is what we put into our bodies.


The most important thing I took from this article is that there differently is a change occurring around us and it comes from the decisions we make every day on what we decide to put in our bodies. I think it may be hard for some younger people to see a change happening because nothing seems new to us. We are used to the away from home meals and the easy access to fast food chains. As we get more and more educated on the topic, we begin to realize that health issues are on the rise, businesses are solely based on income rather than related health issues, and people are becoming lazy.

Some of the shocking information includes how much our fat intake has increased over time. Between 1985 and 2010 individuals intakes of vegetables increased by up to 6 times the amount. Caloric sweeteners are seen in 75% of foods and beverages bought in the United States. In 1977-78 two-thirds of added sugar in the US diet came from food, today over two-thirds comes just from our beverages. Many countries have seen major increases in the production of beef, pork, dairy, eggs, and poultry. Increased consumption of animal-source food has both positive and negative health effects. This is good for poor countries where people need a few extra grams of animal source food, but over consumption of these foods are linked to excessive saturated fat intakes.

The study also showed reduced intakes of legumes, coarse grains, and vegetables. Most of the reasoning behind this is the relative price shifts. These foods began increasing in price, while processed foods kept getting cheaper.

I found this whole article to be interesting and informative. We don’t really look at diabetes and obesity as a pandemic, but it really is. I found it interesting that nearly the entire world is going through this pandemic, even the poor countries across the globe. Industrialization has really played a big factor in this. Money makes the world go round, and when uneducated/uninformed people find “food” that is cheaper and can feed more people, then they are going to buy it; not caring what is inside of that food. Businesses know that people are going to buy something that is cheap and that tastes good. The evolution of this process has led to a viscous cycle of manmade chemicals in processed food, and people only looking at price tags rather than food labels. Over the past few decades scientists are finally noticing the alarming increasing rates of diabetes, cancer, and obesity. The evolution of food and business is taking a toll on our bodies and the statistics are backing it up. This article is one of very few that are addressing concerns about rapid dietary shifts around the world. Some actions need to be taken to create effective programs and policies to help end this pandemic.

I guess the only question/concern I have is how so many policies and regulations have been able to get passed to allow major corporations to put so much unhealthy chemicals and ingredients into our food. I would hope organizations, such as the world health organization, would be powerful enough to keep some of the harmful ingredients out of some of these foods. The only explanation I can see for allowing this is just ignorance. The fact that people didn’t know how our bodies would respond to new ingredients and new changes to our food must have been the reason to let some of these regulations goes through. I think it is clear now that the way we eat now is damaging our health.

Global nutrition transition and the pandemic of obesity in

developing countries

Barry M Popkin, Linda S Adair, and Shu Wen Ng


Decades ago, discussion of an impending global pandemic of obesity was thought of as heresy. But in the 1970s, diets began to shift towards increased reliance upon processed foods, increased away-from-home food intake, and increased use of edible oils and sugar-sweetened beverages. Reductions in physical activity and increases in sedentary behavior began to be seen as well. The negative effects of these changes began to be recognized in the early 1990s, primarily in low- and middle-income populations, but they did not become clearly acknowledged until diabetes, hypertension, and obesity began to dominate the globe. Now, rapid increases in the rates of obesity and overweight are widely documented, from urban and rural areas in the poorest countries of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia to populations in countries with higher income levels. Concurrent rapid shifts in diet and activity are well documented as well. An array of large-scale programmatic and policy measures are being explored in a few countries; however, few countries are engaged in serious efforts to prevent the serious dietary challenges being faced.

© 2011 International Life Sciences Institute


Popkin, B., L. Adair, and S. Wen. “Global Nutrition Transition and the Pandemic of Obesity in.” Nutrition Reviews (2012): n. pag. Rpt. in THEN AND NOW. Vol. 70. N.p.: n.p., n.d. 3-21. Web.

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