“Origins of the obesity pandemic can be analysed”
Steven Parry Donald, Nature
The connection between food culture and obesity makes an argument for food systems investment that supports First Foods, traditional farming, and other cultural resilience efforts taking place in our communities.
Article Summary: Strong culinary identity and strong food culture may foster resilience against the obesity epidemic. While measurable causes of caloric intake and physical activity have long been cornerstones of obesity analyses, University of Toronto Public Health professor John Frank argues that these factors are secondary to history and culture.
By looking at obesity trends over time between countries, Frank identified countries in which the obesity epidemic began later, grew slower, and ultimately plateaued at lower levels than leading countries such as the United States and Australia. These countries include Italy, France, and South Korea among others. Their apparent resilience to the obesity epidemic, Frank argues, is a strong sense of traditional cuisines. Having developed over centuries to sustain societies, traditional cuisines are arguably healthier than modern ones. Societies such as the United States which had a rather shallow sense of culinary identity are more likely to transition to industrialized, processed foods that are so closely associated with increased obesity.
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