Friday, January 8, 2010

the fat map

This is written by Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein:

"In 2006, the World Food Program produced, but never publicly released, a map charting food consumption. Dubbed the “Fat Map,” it shows where the world’s calories go. Nations grow or shrink based on how much the average person eats. Depending on your perspective, it maps starvation or overeating.

The mis-distribution of food goes deeper than even the “Fat Map” implies. In India, for example, more than 300 million overweight people coexist with another 300 million who starve. Chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease that often stem from overeating are growing at a far faster rate in developing countries than in the more prosperous West. In my own region, the Middle East, obesity is skyrocketing, especially among young people.In 2007-2008, a global food crisis surprised us as prices soared. But would the crisis have been as severe if we were not so accustomed to wasting the food we have?

Globally we are moving to an "energy morality" with young people lobbying against wasting energy -- yet there is no "food morality" even though food is organic energy. We sit by and watch each other overeat and discard food without a thought. Extravagant overindulgence is viewed as hospitality and many assume that being a good parent requires that we force feed those we love."

"We pay dearly for this overconsumption. Recent calculations set obesity-related health spending just in the United States at $150-$200 billion -- more than all foreign aid worldwide. The cost of extra medical care for the obese runs as high as $1400 per person annually. Over 2 billion people do not earn that much in a year."

Would cutting overeating and waste really change the contours of the "Fat Map"? Not by itself. The UN estimates we need $30 billion more invested in agriculture yearly. But each of us can consume more wisely and donate food we now waste to a food bank or charity. If it makes sense to save energy, why throw away billions of dollars worth of food and overeat until it endangers our health and our future?

h/t to Brian Heasley

1 comment:

tracey said...

that's very sobering. it's shameful what we take for granted.