Fast Food And Pizza, America’s Obesity Reasons

It’s not only in Chicago or in America where fast food and weight gain are continuously being a health concern.

McDonald’s, Yum Brands and Domino’s Pizza may be working on eliminating obesity at home, but they’re still reaching out to a different market particularly the middle class. In turn, it’s them who are gaining the pounds.

According to the Waistline Index compiled by Bloomberg, the average man who eats less at home and concentrates more on processed snacks, sugary drinks, is gaining weight in Mexico, Brazil and Chile faster than the worldwide average. Women too, except in Brazil, where they are trying to hold on to the global average. But so far, in those 3 countries, fast food is definitely their go-to place. Men in Mexico gained an average of more than 15 pounds from the opening of the first U.S. fast-food outlet in 1985 through 2010, while the nation’s women added more than 19 pounds, according to the research conducted by Bloomberg. In Chile, men have gained 14 pounds on average since the first American chain opened in 1989, while women’s weight has increased 18 pounds.

Increases in these diseases, the rising cost of medical care and worries about childhood obesity may force the food companies to change some practices abroad and push them into new markets to achieve their desired growth. Already, legislators in Brazil are considering restrictions on marketing by fast-food companies. “The parallel now is the big transnational corporations also setting foot in these remote areas and bringing non-communicable diseases,” such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease, Lobstein said in an interview.

Health problems related to changes in diet and lifestyle have been well documented. Death rates in Brazil and Mexico from cardiovascular disease and diabetes surpassed those in the U.S. in 2008, the most recent data available from the World Health Organization. Chile trails those two with a death rate from the diseases close to that of the U.S.

The diseases also are affecting Asian nations, though obesity rates are lower there.

 “The science clearly links eating out with obesity,” said Margo Wootan, nutrition policy director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington-based advocacy group. “Restaurants need to realize that eating out is a big part of people’s diets and they have an important role to play.”

Truth is, people are as responsible to this growing health concern, it’s not just the fast-food companies’. People all around are now more into processed and packed foods due to their hectic schedules, said Michael Schaefer, the Chicago-based head of global consumer foodservice research at Euromonitor International. “Fast-food chains, because they’re so heavily branded, are not surprisingly going to come to be identified with that,” Schaefer said. “But it’s not the sole driving factor.”

The companies point to other influences on diet. “The average McDonald’s customer visits us two to three times per month, therefore the vast majority of meals are eaten elsewhere,” Becca Hary, a McDonald’s spokeswoman, said in an email.

Still, the food chains have faced some resistance from health authorities. Brazil, where men gained almost 19 pounds from 1980 to 2010, is considering a law that would prohibit toys from being given away with kids’ meals at restaurants.

“We need to have the law approved,” Fabio da Silva Gomes, an officer for the Brazilian Ministry of Health’s National Cancer Institute in Rio de Janeiro, said in a telephone interview. Children go to fast-food chains for the toys and are “hooked by the hyper-palatable food,” he said.

American men have gained about 19 pounds, on average, from 1980 to 2010 and women are about 18 pounds heavier, among the fastest weight gains in the world. American consumers will have to do a lot more to undo the damage of the last few decades.

Posted by Diane Araga, on April 16, 2013 at 1:00 PM