Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Fight Against Obesity in Brazil

I have lived in some skinny places in my time.  Argentina for one, Japan for another - if there are fat people in those countries, they certainly don't come out of their homes, because I never saw one.  At times I caused people to stop and gawk at me in Japan because, as an overweight person, I was such an oddity.  And on more than one occasion I saw a mother completely mortified when her kid pointed me out and said the obvious.  "Look at how fat she is!" 


Somehow, I figured Brazil was the same way.  Rio is the world capitol for plastic surgery and, heaven knows I've never seen anything less than a perfect ten in any of the beach pictures I've seen from there.  I figured it was one of those places that God waved a magic wand over and blessed the people with great genetics which made the population naturally beautiful.

But I might be wrong about that.  I was reading about fitness over at BBC Brazil today and it seems that the country is dealing with an increase in obesity in recent years.  Despite stereotypes of fat rich people, the ironic reality in Brazil, much as in the United States, is that the poor people are the ones most prone to obesity. 

It is not that hard to figure out, really.  Populations that are poor, but no so poor as to be starving, are more likely to each cheaper foods and make unhealthy choices.  Processed foods are mass produced and can be purchased relatively cheaply and, no matter where in the world you might be, they universally tend toward high sodium and fat.  Also, as women begin to enter the workforce, their reliance on convenience foods goes up.  And the pounds for them and their families pack on.   Likewise, in families where there is enough money for a television, the children are less likely to go outside and play for entertainment.  (The adults too, for that matter.)

The following is a quote from BBC Brazil:
Más condições de moradia e mobilidade, poucas áreas de lazer, escolaridade baixa e menos dinheiro para comprar alimentos que compõem uma dieta saudável, como frutas e verduras, são alguns dos fatores que levam ao aparente paradoxo da obesidade associada à pobreza.
Bad living conditions and mobility, few recreational areas, low education, and less money to buy foods that make up a healthy diet, like fruits and vegetables, are some of the factors that contribute to the apparent paradox of obesity associated with poverty. 
The whole article (in Portuguese) can be read here: Luta contra excesso de peso é desafio para mulheres na Rocinha .

The video on the same page features women who are dealing with their own personal weight problems by going to a gym and working out. 

Next time you will see less of me!


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