Monday, June 25, 2012

Food Hero Tuesday: TFT Japan Food Team!

Note from the Editor: Every Tuesday, TFT HK will bring you a post or article from/about one of our local or global food heroes. These are people who inspire us, and whose visions align with the values that TFT espouses and promotes. This week's post is from a member of the Table for Two Japan Food Team, dietician Shoko Ohno, who comments upon an article that addresses current trends in global obesity and food imbalance. TFT Japan Food Team, we at TFT HK salute you!

"Thoughts on 'The Weight of Nations' article"
Author: Shoko Ohno, Certified Dietitian, TFT Food Team
Editor: Shoko Iijima, TFT Food Team
Original Texts (in Japanese):

Throughout my many years as a dietitian, I’ve always believed that the “obesity problem” must not be painted as an issue of individual choice.

I believe we must, first and foremost, learn to treat people of every size with kindness and compassion. Recently, I found an article from the United States, which cited the fact that one in three Americans suffers from obesity, and that there is a human rights group for overweight people. This group is called the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA). I agree that the “sizists,” those who discriminate against overweight people, should not be tolerated. We cannot stand by and accept such behavior.

With that being said, in my professional opinion, global obesity must be attacked on both medical and societal fronts. Societal causes of obesity are countless and multifold, and include the global population’s shift toward a lack of exercise and general bodily movement (due to changes in professional and personal life, in which physical movement is no longer “necessary”), poor nutrition due to a lack of education, and food marketing that promotes unhealthy eating and overeating. There is a very interesting report by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine that comments upon this trend toward a high prevalence of overweight and obese people:

While the average body mass globally was 62kg, North America, which has the highest body mass of any continent, has an average body mass of 80.7kg. North America has only 6% of the world’s population but 34% of the world’s biomass mass due to obesity. In contrast Asia has 61% of the world’s population but only 13% of the world’s biomass due to obesity.
If all countries had the same average BMI as the USA the total human biomass would increase by 58 million tonnes - this is the equivalent of an additional 935 million people of world average body mass.
Professor Ian Roberts, who led the research at LSHTM, said, “Everyone accepts that population growth threatens global environmental sustainability -- our study shows that population fatness is also a major threat. Unless we tackle both population and fatness -- our chances are slim."

I do not want to think that every place on the earth will suffer from obesity in the future. We can and should change the trend now. We have no time to waste - the situation is getting worse faster than we, or at least I, had previously imagined. According to World Disasters Report, several years ago, the amount of people who suffered from obesity and hunger was equal: 1 billion and 1 billion, respectively. These numbers are now said to be 1.5 billion vs. 0.9 billion. We must work together to create change, and to work toward a world in which food is distributed equally, and no one is over- or underfed.

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