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The collision course of obesity, undernutrition, and climate change

23 13 7

DESPITE almost three decades of policy recommendations, obesity rates are soaring.

Nearly two billion people are overweight or obese, costing US$2 trillion a year – comparable to the global impact of armed violence and war.

The extent of the pandemic demonstrates this is far from a problem of individual willpower. Rather, it is a product of our modern food systems – the very same systems that are driving undernutrition and climate change.

This perfect storm of malnutrition – both obesity and undernutrition – and climate change is the “paramount health challenge” of the 21st century. Together, they represent ‘The Global Syndemic’, where ‘syndemic’ refers to two or more diseases that co-occur, interact, and share societal drivers.

SEE ALSO: Asia Pacific children are facing an ‘obesity time bomb’

A newly released report by the Lancet Commission on Obesity examines their links, the roles of government, the private sector, and civil society, and what can be done to tackle the pandemics in concert.

Climate change can be considered a pandemic alongside obesity and undernutrition due to its predicted “catastrophic” and global impact on human health. Storms, floods, drought, warming oceans, and rising sea levels threaten the world’s food security; worsening nutrient deficiencies, undernutrition and – less obviously – obesity.

Failing to act means the tremendous health gains of the past 50 years could be reversed by 2050. The broader costs such as loss of human potential, societal disruption, and environmental destruction will be borne by current and future generations.

Just as climate impacts food systems, food systems also impact climate. From intensive agriculture to transportation, the........

© Asian Correspondent