“Last September, the United Nations declared that, for the first time in human history, chronic non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes pose a greater health burden worldwide than do infectious diseases, contributing to 35 million deaths annually. This is not just a problem of the developed world. Every country that has adopted the Western diet — one dominated by low-cost, highly processed food — has witnessed rising rates of obesity and related diseases. There are now 30% more people who are obese than who are undernourished. Economic development means that the populations of low- and middle-income countries are living longer, and therefore are more susceptible to non-communicable diseases; 80% of deaths attributable to them occur in these countries.

Many people think that obesity is the root cause of these diseases. But 20% of obese people have normal metabolism and will have a normal lifespan. Conversely, up to 40% of normal-weight people develop the diseases that constitute the metabolic syndrome: diabetes, hypertension, lipid problems, cardio­vascular disease and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Obesity is not the cause; rather, it is a marker for metabolic dysfunction, which is even more prevalent.”

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