What’s the Right Way to Reverse the Obesity Epidemic?

Monday, September 23, 2019
New York Times
Illustration by Nicholas Konrad; photographs by Michael Short for The New York Times, Janet Van Ham/HBO, Charles Sykes/Invision,

Spencer Bokat-Lindell, a writer in The New York Times Opinion section, draws readers through the complicated challenge of grappling with obesity and its incumbent health impacts. Leaders call for changes in the food environment, governmental oversight, pharmacology, and changes in medical and cultural attitudes. World Food Policy Center Director Kelly Brownell's work is mentioned.

The Takeaway

In 2017, The New England Journal of Medicine published the most comprehensive study ever conducted on global obesity, whose main driver, the authors suggested, was the food environment. “We have more processed food, more energy-dense food, more intense marketing of food products, and these products are more available and more accessible,” the lead author, Ashkan Afshin, told The Times. Of 195 countries, not a single one had managed to reduce overweight or obesity levels.

Obesity, in other words, may simply be a natural consequence of global modernity. No doubt the problem requires many solutions, but all of them will have to match the scale and force of its reality. Until then, Mr. Corden said over the weekend, “maybe we can hold back on the whole ‘call fat people virgins until they lose weight’ strategy.”

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