Globesity – the new epidemic spreading around the world

Source: Thu, 4 Jan 2018 01:00 AM
Author: Silvia Landi
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By Silvia Landi, winner of the “Photo Unpublished” category in the Thomson Reuters Foundation and Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition Foundation Food Sustainability Media Award 2017.

* Any views expressed in this photo essay are those of the author and not of the Thomson Reuters Foundation

In recent decades the world has seen a new emergency emerging – Globesity – which is considered an epidemic by the World Health Organization that threatens the health of all nations. Currently the percentage of obese people in the world is growing at double the rate of people who suffer from hunger or malnutrition. For the first time in history, the world has more overweight than underweight people, and adult obesity is more common globally than undernutrition. Globally about 1.9 billion adults, 340 million children and adolescents, and 41 million children aged under 5 are overweight or obese. 

Obesity  was, for a long time, seen as the result of the lifestyle in rich countries like the United States, but now the social, economic and political causes of Globesity are put down to not just excess food but to poor quality food and the lack of access for poorer populations to quality foods and adequate medical care. The World Food Programme says undernutrition -  when people do not get enough food – and obesity – itself a form of malnutrition - are two sides of the same coin, and together inflict a “double burden” of disease on people and economies globally.

  • A girl suffering from obesity in front of her house in the Langa township in Cape Town.
    Obesity has become a global problem known as “globesity” that the World Health Organization sees as an epidemic threatening the health of all nations. Being obese or overweight is no longer blamed solely on excess of food but is increasingly linked to poverty with the poorest populations unable to afford quality food.

  • A boy walks in the streets of Khayelitsha township. Many middle and low income countries, such as South Africa, are facing an emerging "double burden" of food-related disease. In these countries it is not uncommon to find malnutrition and obesity existing side-by-side, with the origins associated with globalization and poverty.

  • Ricardo, 36, during a pre-operative medical examination in the Chrysalis Clinic for the treatment of obesity in the Life Kingsbury Hospital in Claremont, Cape Town. Ricardo’s weight has caused knee problems that prevent him from walking far or undertaking other physical activities.

    Obesity is a chronic disease that involves several factors including genetics, environment, metabolism, lifestyle, and behaviour. It is accompanied in many cases with physical limitations, psychological distress, depression, isolation and difficulty in social relationships. The high cost of surgical operations for severe obesity limits access for poor sections of the population.

  • Sale of meat in the streets of Khayelitsha, one of the poorest areas of Cape Town. Experts say that the diseases correlated with obesity will soon take over from HIV and tuberculosis as the biggest causes of death in South Africa.

  • A man in charge of cooking meat during a braai - a South African BBQ - at Mzoli's "do-it-yourself" market and eatery in the township of Gugulethu, a black neighbourhood about 15 km from Cape Town.

  • A man in charge of cooking meat during a braai - a South African BBQ - at Mzoli's "do-it-yourself" market and eatery in the township of Gugulethu, a black neighbourhood about 15 km from Cape Town.

  • Mzoli’s butchery, township of Gugulethu. Some teenagers during a braai, eating and drinking. Alcohol combined with the quantity and quality of food and a lack of physical activity is blamed by experts for increasing the rate of obesity among young South Africans.

  • A girl in a shanty town near Cape Town where she lives with her family. Many middle and low income countries, such as South Africa, are facing an emerging "double burden" of food related disease, according the WFP. In these countries it is not uncommon to find malnutrition and obesity existing side-by-side with the origins associated with globalization and poverty.

  • The director of Zanethemba Kidz Haven School distributes food to school children. The school focuses on child educational development, nutrition and health care for orphaned and displaced sectors of society in the poorest area of Philippi, one of the larger townships in Cape Town.

  • A woman eats a sausage cooked on a street braai on the main street of Khayelitsha. The origins of globesity in developing countries, where a high percentage of the population lives below the poverty line, is partly attributed to the high cost of quality food and ready availability of cheap junk food.

  • A typical kitchen in one of the old Langa district homes. Many middle and low income countries are facing an emerging "double burden" of food related diseases with malnutrition and obesity existing side-by-side in these countries.

  • Grace, a resident of Khayelitsha, in her home. Grace is considered an active member of her community and she knows about the problem of obesity, but she has struggled to change her eating habits to solve her health and weight problems.

  • Men cook meat on the main street of Khayelitsha that is sold as snack food. Aaron Motsoaledi, the Minister of Health of South Africa, has publicly said that he believes obesity is being caused by the rapid shift to urban living along with greater increased consumption of Western-style diets high in sugar, fat and salt.

  • Sea Point is one of the wealthiest neighbourhoods in Cape Town. In South Africa,

    according to the World Bank, as many as half of South Africa's urban population live in townships and informal settlements that are home to 38 percent of working-age citizens but nearly 60 percent of its unemployed. A World Bank report said under apartheid, black South Africans were forced to live in the dormitory-style townships that were built as far as possible from economic city centres.

  • Andrè, 38, during a pre-operative medical examination in the Chrysalis Clinic for the treatment of obesity in the Life Kingsbury Hospital in Cape Town. Obesity is a chronic disease caused by a variety of factors including genetics, environment, metabolism, lifestyle, and behaviour, and is accompanied in many cases with physical limitations, psychological distress, depression, isolation and difficulties in social relationships.

  • Sea Point, located in an affluent part of the city, is equipped with a variety of free services for sport and well-being such as fitness equipment, children's playgrounds, swimming pools, bike paths etc..

  • Andrè, 38, waiting for the doctor's answer about the possibility of an operation to reduce his weight in the Chrysalis Clinic for the treatment of obesity in the Life Kingsbury Hospital in Cape Town. Recent studies have shown that obese people who undergo with surgery live significantly longer than those treated with non-surgical means.

  • Andrè, 38, during a pre-operative medical examination in the Chrysalis Clinic for the treatment of obesity. The operation requires a financial outlay of about R130,000 (about $10,000) so only those with funds and/or adequate health insurance can access these treatments.

  • Two shopping carts abandoned on a street in the township of Khayelitsha. Many middle and low income countries are facing an emerging "double burden" of food related diseases, according to the WFP. In these countries, it is not uncommon to find malnutrition and obesity existing side-by-side.

  • Some women in traditional South African clothes at a political meeting in the township of Khayelitsha, one of the poorest areas of Cape Town, where attendees were offered free food and alcohol.

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