Obesity in the developing world
Hannily Harvey and Janneke Patterson explain why the starving stereotype is not always accurate
- By: Hannily Harvey, Janneke Patterson
Imagine a hot day in rural India. A slow moving queue forms at the local hospital as people wait for their outpatient appointments. You might assume the people queuing are gaunt, hollow eyed women and stick thin infants.
This is not the case. Although a large proportion of people in the developing world are still critically underweight, many will have a body mass index over 25.1 The World Health Organization estimates that there are around 300 million clinically obese people worldwide and that the incidence in developing countries has trebled to 115 million in the past few decades.2 However, the general notion in the West is that people living in developing countries are malnourished and underweight, a misconception perpetuated by high profile media images focused on famine and catastrophic diseases such as HIV/AIDS.
Non-communicable diseases such as obesity were estimated to have contributed to 43% of the global burden of