Jamie Oliver has found a new target for his healthy food crusade. He has written an open letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon about the staggering global obesity rates and the resulting health crisis. He makes a strong case, citing the fact that one in 10 people in the world is obese and that "in the few minutes that it takes you to read this letter, more than 25 of our fellow human beings will have died from obesity and diet-related diseases."
Although no one can deny that the growth rate of obesity is frightening, many UN countries struggle with a much different food-related problem: hunger. Oliver does see that malnutrition and hunger are in fact interrelated with the obesity crisis. He writes:
People still don’t realize that the problem is not just limited to rich countries, that worldwide being obese or overweight now causes more deaths than under-nutrition. It’s convenient for everyone to think that it’s just America which has the biggest problem. Not many people know that obesity rates in women are the same in middle eastern countries as in Europe. The sad fact is, you are more likely to die at a younger age, when families and businesses depend on you most, in the low and middle income countries which can least afford to fight with drugs and hospital treatment.
Compared to Oliver's statistic that one in ten people are obese, the UN-backed World Food Programme claims that one in seven people will go to bed hungry tonight. Hunger kills more people than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. Oliver states that 42 million children are overweight before they reach school age. In contrast, one in four children in developing countries are underweight. There are more hungry people in the world than the combined populations of the U.S., Canada and the European Union.
It's a scary world where, in some countries, overabundance of junk food causes unparalleled rates of obesity, while, in other countries, access to food is a daily struggle for large populations.
See the full letter over at JamieOliver.com.