Hunger is reduced almost all over the world, while overweight and obesity grow on all continents. The lower prices, lack of regulation and easy access for children and adolescents to ultra-processed and sugary drinks are mixed with a lack of nutritional education. These agitated factors in a shaker keep the overweight epidemic from growing,
Antonio Cabrera, professor of preventive medicine and public health at the University of La Laguna (Tenerife) is the author of numerous studies on sedentary is, obesity and cardiovascular risks. It was recently part of a macro research published in the journal Nature which concluded that, despite what was traditionally thought, overweight was focused on rural areas. One of his most worrying views is that obesity in developing countries has a long way to go.
ask, Do children eat worse now than they did 50years?
. Like everything else, it depends on the country and the social class. Severe malnutrition can generally be said to have been reduced, although millions of people are still starving. The novelty over the last 40 years is the obesity epidemic. It emerged in the 1980s in rich countries and has spread all over the world. The main cause is that ultra-processeds have displaced natural foods. The circumstances are varied, as for example, it takes a time that sometimes they do not have to cook. Those who consume these products do eat worse than those that belonged on their same social level years ago,
Is malnutrition a matter of classes?
without a doubt. When the obesity epidemic began, the middle classes were hardest hit, but the cultural level was able to move this group away from certain dietary patterns and in rich countries it has become a problem of the poor classes. The same thing happened in the least disadvantaged countries, where it started out as something of the affluent. But then, it's on the same trend: it's a problem of the poor in poor countries,
You participated in research published in the journal Nature where one of the main conclusions was that the rural environment was most affected by this scourge.
The rural world, especially in low-income countries, has sufficient purchasing capacity for such cheap meals that also do not require spending time preparing and thereby shifting traditional diets based on fresh food. In that article the surprise is that it was thought to be an urban phenomenon and we could see that it did not,
If it is regulated that you do not smoke in public, the number of addicts falls. Malnutrition can also not be tackled with a drug, but from politics
Rural environment and poverty in many cases is joined by a weak government, with little capacity to act
The people who receive support from their government will benefit greatly. Take tobacco, for example. If it is regulated that you do not smoke in public, the number of addicts falls. Malnutrition cannot be addressed with a drug, but from politics,
How do you
R: Taxing sugary foods, which is recommended by WHO, by making up junk food, prohibiting the sale in children's areas, vending machines or withdrawing or selling fruit. If the child, or even the adult, wants to eat in the middle of the morning and the alternative is between an apple and an ice cream, the apple has little chance. That bananas, apples and Manchego cheese sandwiches are available at the school is regulated from the policy. And in the weakest countries, multinationals plow or directly buy from governments,
Unicef's latest report shows that 70% of the production of ultra-processed products is managed by one hundred companies.
R: As malnutrition begins to become a health problem and enters the political agenda, pressures from below begin to counter those at the top. We are seeing how conservative governments, traditionally on the industry side, have put down restrictions. The childhood obesity epidemic in the UK caused his government to regulate the sale of certain products in schools. Some of us are clear that in the more developed countries obesity is going to decline, but in the most disadvantaged, it has much to grow,
What health problems will be seen in the future considering infant feeding in recent years?
R: Low-income countries will adopt the disease patterns of rich countries: hypertension, diabetes, cancers, heart attacks... That's the foreseeable. If hypertension was rare in the rural world in Asia, it's going to be common. And their health systems generally lack resources to address them.
Unicef's analysis also shows that 42% of adolescents drink sugary soft drinks at least once a day, and 45% ultra-processed foods at least once a week Is addressing this problem too late?
We have not protected our children and are seeing obesity in four-year-old patients
R: I finished my career in 1982. So we studied type 2 diabetes as an adult disease. When the obesity epidemic explodes – in Europe enters the UK – diabetes came into adolescence. It was absolutely unheard of. Years later, around 2008, we saw her as children. Speaking of obesity, it's a disease that's gone even further, we haven't protected our children and we're seeing it in four-year-old patients. Does that exclude problems in adolescence? No, it makes them worse. There are still children who debut with obesity in adolescence but another percentage has been added to it since childhood,
will efforts focus on being overweight from now on?
R: All this avalanche should not make us lose sight of the still serious malnutrition problems in many countries. Crises have caused even in developed countries to see cases of hunger that were unthinkable 20 years ago,