Developing World Are Rapidly Consuming More Unhealthy Food

Big Food is making a big headway in the developing world, highlighting the need for researchers and policymakers to examine how the food and beverage industry markets unhealthy products implicated in chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease.

In an interesting article, David Stuckler and al (Manufacturing Epidemics: The Role of Global Producers in Increased Consumption of Unhealthy Commodities Including Processed Foods, Alcohol, and Tobacco, June 2012; PLOS medicine – http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1001235) from the University of Cambridge examined market data on processed food and soft drink sales for up to 80 countries between 1997 and 2010.

These are the key points as highlighted:

• The rate of increase in consumption of “unhealthy commodities” (soft drinks and processed foods that are high in salt, fat, and sugar, as well as tobacco and alcohol) is fastest in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), with little or no further growth expected in high-income countries (HICs).

• The pace at which consumption is rising in LMICs is even faster than has occurred historically in HICs.

As a result, the developing world is also set to match the First World’s unhealthy commodity consumption rates within three decades.

•  Multinational companies like PepsiCo, Netsle and Danone have now achieved a level of penetration of food markets in middle-income countries similar to what they have achieved in HICs.

• Higher intake of unhealthy foods correlates strongly with higher tobacco and alcohol sales, suggesting a set of common tactics by industries producing unhealthy commodities.

• Contrary to findings from studies undertaken several decades ago, urbanization no longer seems to be a strong risk factor for greater consumption of risky commodities at the population level, with the exception of soft drinks.

• Rising income has been strongly associated with higher consumption of unhealthy commodities within countries and over time, but mainly when there are high foreign direct investment and free-trade agreements. Economic growth does not inevitably lead to higher unhealthy-commodity consumption.

o A free-trade agreement with the U.S. is associated with about a 63.4% higher level of soft drink consumption per capita for low- and middle-income countries.


o For example, Mexico experienced a rapid rise in soft drink consumption after the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement dramatically reduced barriers for trade with the United States. As a result, the % of the Mexican population aged 15 and above who is overweighed or obese is superior to 69% (http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/sites/factbook-2011-en/12/02/03/index.html?contentType=&itemId=/content/chapter/factbook-2011-109-en&containerItemId=/content/serial/18147364&accessItemIds=&mimeType=text/html).


o In contrast, Venezuela – which does not have a similar trade agreement with the U.S. – has maintained steady soft drink consumption rates despite high levels of economic growth.

Unfortunately, all the people in this world are not treated in the same way!

While many companies have pledged to eliminate trans fats and reduce salt, sugar and fat in foods sold in wealthy countries, these nutritional improvements are often not implemented in poorer markets.

There is a need to identify population-level social, economic and political interventions that could stem the rise of unhealthy commodity consumption, and overcome the political barriers to their implementation, as has been done for tobacco control.

It is also imperative to associate these strategies to the current initiative on food security and nutrition that was proposed during the latest G8. A focus on sustainable farming is currently a hot spot but this battle can’t have a real impact in the long term if people see “junk food” like sexy (the food that people living in developed countries love – see one of our previous blog on the same topic) or as the only affordable choice.

Their results and analysis were is part of the journal’s “Big Food” series, which is examining the influence of the food and beverage industry on public health (http://www.ploscollections.org/article/browseIssue.action?issue=info:doi/10.1371/issue.pcol.v07.i17).

Source: http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/356675/20120626/soda-big-food-developing-world-processed-nafta.htm

Advertisements

‘International Girls’ Day’ Gets A Final Push

We are almost there! The resolution was adopted by consensus at the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly and will go to the full Assembly for adoption the week of December 19th.

Leymah Gbowee, the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner, has been a long standing supporter of an international day dedicated to girls. She said it would help bring to light the issues of girls before governments, media, and educational institutions. “Girls are the future of the world and we definitely need a day dedicated to their issues.”

Research has shown that simply being born a girl can leave a child at a huge disadvantage in life. In the poorest societies, a girl faces greater risk of malnutrition, hunger, and disease compared to her brothers. She will have fewer opportunities for an education and career. In many developing countries 1 out of 7 girls marries before age 15, resulting in them having to drop out of school before they have a chance to receive the education they deserve.

Girls themselves first raised the crucial issue of the need to recognize their rights at a UN gender summit in 2009. Since then girls have lobbied for this day, with the support and guidance of Plan. This idea was reinforced through the amazing ‘Because I am a Girl’ Plan campaign (http://becauseiamagirl.ca/).

Focusing on women and girls can have the greatest impact in alleviating poverty impact on the most vulnerable. This is well established in the Plan report “State of the World’s Girls 2009: Girls in the global economy’”
(http://plan-international.org/girls/resources/girls-in-the-global-economy-2009.php) as well as through the work done by OXFAM for whom ending global poverty begins with women’s rights (http://www.oxfam.ca/).

To read more about this great news, go to:

http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/international-day-of-the-girl-child-gets-a-final-push

The tranquil revolution is underway!

~~Stay tuned for updates about the wonderful things happening around the world~~

Sowing the Seeds of Food Security

Another great initiative in South Africa, similar to what Cki is trying to achieve through its new project in the Chorkor community, Accra, Ghana:

Schools Environmental Education and Development (SEED) is a non-profit organization based in Cape Town that creates learning gardens as part of their Organic Classroom Program, in partnerships with schools in South Africa’s poorest communities.

Founded in 2002, SEED trains teachers to design, plant, and nurture a garden according to permaculture principles (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permaculture), which encourage a sustainable approach to agriculture modelled after an ecosystem. Teachers are using organic vegetable gardens to help children learn about science, geography, health, and economics—and to unlearn hunger. Produce from the gardens is used in the school’s cafeteria or sent home in parcels with the students for their families.

SEED website: http://www.seed.org.za/   
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/SEED/152379438141624

 is not alone…

Greenpop is working in an environment similar to the Chorkor community, where homes are crammed next to one another, the earth is more sand than soil, and strong winds often blow. This organization is a tree-planting social enterprise that is beautifying these areas, starting with the schools. They start with hardier indigenous trees and if they survive, they come back with fruit trees that can produce 20-100 kg of fruits each in a season, helping to increase food diversity. Children are assigned a tree to look after and must each bring in 2L (1 gal) of gray water—recycled from the bath or sink—to water their tree every 2 days. It is gaining attention from media and corporate sponsors for its gung-ho attitude toward mobilizing volunteers for tree-planting days—largely from among Cape Town’s privileged youth. They also partner with larger companies that can tick their corporate social responsibility box when their employees get involved in tree-planting initiatives.

Greenpop website: http://www.greenpop.org/
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/GreenpopTreevolution

To learn more about these great initiatives, read this article published in the New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/28/business/global/28iht-RBOG-CAPE28.html?_r=3&pagewanted=1

~~Stay tuned for updates about the wonderful things happening around the world~~

A Sweet and Orange Solution for Vitamin Deficiency – Developing Countries Take Action Against Lifestyle Diseases

As announced this year by the UN, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension are largely “forgotten” issue in developing countries. These countries show a higher prevalence of such ailments when compared to developed countries (80% of cases are in the developing world). Experts say that this will be the epidemic facing developing nations in the 21st century, greater than HIV in the 20th century, if trends are not combated in the near future.

In their feature, the BBC World Service program talks about the Botswana initiative to show the reality of NCDs in the developing world and the proactive action plan being put in place by schools to reverse the current trends. The aim is to increase awareness in children and youth about the importance of healthy eating, active lifestyle, and health benefit of specific foods. Scientists have discovered that upon introducing African families to the orange sweet potatoes, as an alternative to the white or pale yellow sweet potato typically grown in Africa, Vitamin A intake in women and children doubled. Vitamin A is essential in preventing blindness and supporting the immune system. A deficiency of this essential nutrient is very prevalent in Africa, causing many children to go blind prior to starting school, as well as increasing their susceptibility to diarrhea and respiratory illnesses. These are just some of the key points highlighted in this short presentation.

To learn more about this terrific proactive initiative, go to:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p00lrkcb/Health_Check_30_11_2011/

Our organization, Cki is taking part in the youth awareness movement with its project in Ghana where we have set up a school garden club. The children are already growing a large variety of vegetable and we will soon start an education program on the importance of food diversity, good nutrition, and healthy lifestyle.

~~Stay tuned for updates about the wonderful things happening around the world~~

The orange sweet potato is common in North America and is much higher in Vitamin D than it's white or pale yellow cousin that is normally grown in Africa. However, families in Africa who were given this orange sweet potato to grow were able to significantly increase their Vitamin D intake, protecting themselves from blindness and strengthening their immune system