340,400,000. That’s the number of obese people in the world today according to the World Health Organization!
Even as the rich world suffers with diseases and health complications related to having too much food, poorer nations are languishing in malnutrition. According to the USA National Institute of Health, $75-$125 billion is spent annually on indirect and direct costs due to obesity related diseases, a statistic which dwarfs the commitment and attempts made by the rich nations to reduce world hunger.
Fast food giant McDonald’s Corporation further confirmed the rich world’s double standards in the fight against hunger by unveiling the corporation’s newest innovation, a ‘McTriple Decker Cheeseburger’ as their deliberate ‘giant step’ towards conquering the problem of world hunger.
“Believe me, no child, no matter how hungry, will still be starving after eating the new McTriple Decker!
McDonald’s will focus its marketing efforts on hunger-wracked nations,” the Corporation’s director of public relations Gregory Meacham stated.
What I perceive from this statement is that McDonald’s either ignorantly mocked the hungry world or that Meacham’s uncouth sense of humor hit quite below the belt of the developing world.
Meacham’s statement reminds me of Marie Antoinette’s infamous advice to the poor French peasants, “if they can’t afford bread, let them eat cake.”
Whereas WHO carries out numerous hunger reduction projects in Africa, it is still absurd to note that eighty percent of the corn, grain and soy beans harvested in Europe and North America is fed to animals.
In other words, these horses, rabbits and cows have a better standard of living than the malnourished children of Somalia.
According to WHO, it would cost approximately $19 million to save the 15,000 people who die everyday of malnutrition and hunger. However, rich nations have their own demon of obesity to fight, pushing the hungry people in the developing world further down the pecking order.
“Obesity in the U.S has evolved into an epidemic. Mississippi has trended beyond 30% of adults considered to be obese whereas Alabama, West Virginia and Tennessee are also reporting trends approaching 25% for adults.” said Eugene Jacquescoley an independent researcher.
This obesity epidemic has made it extremely difficult for the rich nations to fully commit to solving the problem of world hunger.
Tons of food that are wasted in America can be used to feed a considerable number of malnourished children in Asia. But because of the capitalistic nature of the economy, such thoughts are discarded as fast they came in.
This is likely to prevail until this unfair correlation between obesity and hunger takes a genuine reverse so that the rich people in wealthy nations stop dying because they are eating too much and instead donate as much more food to the starving to save them from dying.
Ivan R Mugisha is a social commentator