In the public mind, sub-Saharan Africa is a region plagued by war, famine and disease. Now it faces a new threat – obesity. It is not a problem widely associated with a continent where millions live on less than a dollar a day. But growing rates of obesity are posing a significant risk to the health of the next generation.
With a population that has passed one billion, Africa is starting to experience the ills of the developed world, driven by changing diets, urbanisation and increasingly sedentary lives, according to research published in The Lancet.
In America, one adult in three is classified as obese, but obesity is markedly higher among black and native Americans than among those of European descent.
The real culprit, researchers believe, is the shift to urban living. Cities in Africa are the fastest-growing in the world. This is not only about the spread of McDonald’s, KFC and the “Coca-Colanisation” of the developing world. It is also about the change in diet that occurs when people move from growing to buying their food.
Jenny Cresswell, chief author of the Lancet study, said: “Once people move to the city, their activity levels go down. They are no longer able to grow their own food. Instead they tend to rely on street hawkers and eat foods high in fat and sugar.
“Today, obesity in Africa is associated with wealth: the wealthier you are, the more likely you are to be overweight. But as populations get richer, it is expected that the picture will swing round and obesity will become associated with the poor.”
Nearly one-half of the American population will be obese by 2030 according to a 2012 study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The researchers estimate that this will result in an additional $66 billion dollars in health care expenditures, 7.8 million new cases of diabetes, 6.8 million new cases of stroke and heart disease, and 539,000 new cancer diagnoses. This epidemic of obesity and commonly associated diseases creates a gash in the fabric of our country that threatens the future of individuals, families, and our nation.
But a potentially larger crisis is looming in the pews of churches across America. In fact, statistics suggest that the church today may indeed be in worse condition than the general population. A 2006 Purdue study found that the fundamental Christians are by far the heaviest of all religious groups led by the Baptists with a 30% obesity rate compared with Jews at 1%, Buddhists and Hindus at 0.7%.
This study prompted the lead researcher, Ken Ferraro to say, “America is becoming a nation of gluttony and obesity and churches are a feeding ground for this problem.”
Similarly, a 2011 Northwestern University study tracking 3,433 men and women for 18 years found that young adults who attend church or a bible study once a week are 50% more likely to be obese.
The Pawtucket Heart Health Program found that people who attended church were more likely than non-church members to be 20 percent overweight and have higher cholesterol and blood pressure numbers.
Finally, a 2001 Pulpit and Pew study of 2,500 clergy found that 76% were overweight or obese compare to 61% of the general population at the time of the study.
A report by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image and the Central YMCA recommended MPs should investigate putting “appearance-based discrimination” on the same legal basis as race and sexual discrimination.
Under the Equalities Act 2010, it is illegal to harass, victimise or discriminate against anyone on the basis of a number of ‘protected’ characteristics, such as their race, gender, sexual orientation, age, or disability.
The parliamentary group, supported by the charity Central YMCA, has today published a report, Reflections on Body Image, recommending “a review into the scale of the problem of appearance-based discrimination and how this would be best tackled”.
It goes on: “This may include exploring whether an amendment to the Equalities Act would be the most appropriate way of tackling such discrimination.”
Under the current act, people can and are prosecuted for verbal abuse if it is deemed serious enough.
Even if you eventually trim down. (NSFW and somewhat disturbing.)
The crematorium employee in the western German town of Hamelin took a last look at the coffin before pushing it inside the furnace. This was the third coffin he had processed on the morning of January 13, and the body itself weighed over 200 kilograms (440 pounds). Of that, only two kilograms of ashes were supposed to remain after cremation. But, 15 minutes later, flames shot out of the crematorium’s 10-meter-high (33-foot-high) stainless-steel chimney, and parts of it began to melt.
Unable to bring the fire under control, the employee called the fire department. Firemen determined that the smoking chimney was glowing at 600 degrees Celsius (1,100 degrees Fahrenheit). They cooled it from the side and used an infrared camera to track the spread of heat through the building. It took four hours to reduce the body in the furnace to ash.