Are we on the verge of an obesity apocalypse?

Whoa, whoa, whoa.

I really need a moment to gather myself here. Because the statistic I’m about to reveal is almost too staggering for me to wrap my head around. So let me just spit it out and give us all a little time to absorb it.

The number of overweight and obese adults in developing countries has quadrupled in the last 30 years. From an already obscene 250 million in 1980–up to nearly a billion people worldwide today.

That’s one in seven humans on the entire planet. And we’re only talking about developing nations, here. If you include the rest of the world, we’re looking at a statistic closer to one in four.

These are shocking numbers. But I’m sad to say they don’t surprise me. Because America loves to export all of its bad habits, along with the obesity and diabetes epidemics that follow them. And the largest global populations–like India and China, according to this review–happen to be particularly susceptible to this influence.

This certainly speaks to my personal experience. A few years back, I was heading up a clinical research project for an Indian company working on a weight loss supplement. And we had no problem at all recruiting subjects.

Anyway, one of the exclusion criteria for the study was diabetes. And I can’t tell you how many people we had to turn away because they were diabetic. And they didn’t even know it.

Now, I must say, I have been to India at least a dozen times–and it’s a very special and unique place to me. The poverty and the beauty provide a striking juxtaposition. So you can imagine my initial confusion.

Here I was in a developing nation where the poverty level in many areas is among the most heart-wrenching in the world. And nevertheless, I was seeing diabetic after diabetic.

Of course, we’re talking about a country with over one billion people. Among whom there are at least 300 million middle class, with access to as much sugar and processed food as the entire population of the United States. So it stands to reason.

And it also helps to explain how these numbers are simply skyrocketing out of control. Just like disease spreads faster through large populations, obesity can quickly infect a country with the wealth and size to support it.

Now, please understand — I’m not picking on fat people. I’m simply trying to point out the true consequences of obesity. And just how much it could end up costing us.

As the planet gets fatter, we will see a huge increase in the number of people struck with cancer, diabetes, strokes and heart attacks. This puts an enormous burden on public healthcare systems.

But more importantly, it causes unnecessary pain, devastation, and loss to the people unfortunate enough to suffer this fate. And to the families who love them, too.

We’re going to be paying for all of this one way or another. Meanwhile, you know who’s getting rich? Insurance companies, Big Pharma and Big Agribusiness–that’s who.

So let me ask you this. When we are facing an epidemic of epic proportions, how is government intervention unfair? Shouldn’t we be demanding that the government step in and stop this obesity juggernaut from ruining us?

We should not accept a status quo that continues to promote obesity. We should not accept obesity, period . Because as someone who used to be obese, I can tell you, change is possible.

And it needs to happen fast. Or soon, there will be no turning back.


“Obesity is a weighty issue for almost 1bn in developing world.” 06 Jan 2014.