DECEMBER 13, 2013
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About the Authors:
Malden Nesheim is Professor of Nutrition Emeritus and Provost Emeritus. He joined the Cornell faculty in 1959. In 1974, he was named Director of the Division of Nutritional Sciences, a post that he held until the summer of 1987. Prior to becoming Provost of Cornell University in September 1989, he held the position of Vice President for Planning and Budgeting. He has received the Conrad A. Elvehjem Award for Public Service from the American Institute of Nutrition. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1995 and a Fellow of the American Society of Nutritional Sciences in 1997. He earned a BS in Agricultural Science and an MS in Animal Nutrition from the University of Illinois, followed by a PhD in Nutrition from Cornell. His research interests have been aspects of nutritional biochemistry and more recently, the relationship of parasitic infections to nutritional status along with other aspects of human nutrition. His most recent book, with Marion Nestle, Why Calories Count—From Science to Politics, was published by the University of California Press in 2012.
Marion Nestle is the Paulette Goddard Professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University, which she chaired from 1988–2003. She is also Professor of Sociology at NYU and Visiting Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell. She earned a PhD in Molecular Biology and an MPH in Public Health Nutrition from University of California, Berkeley. Previous faculty positions were at Brandeis University and the UCSF School of Medicine. From 1986–1988, she was senior nutrition policy advisor in the Department of Health and Human Services and editor of The Surgeon General’s Report on Nutrition and Health. Her research examines scientific and socioeconomic influences on food choice, obesity, and food safety, emphasizing the role of food marketing. She is the author or co-author of four prize-winning books: Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health; Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety; What to Eat; and, with Malden Nesheim, Why Calories Count. She also has written two books about pet food, Pet Food Politics: The Chihuahua in the Coal Mine and Feed Your Pet Right (also with Malden Nesheim). Her most recent book is Eat, Drink, Vote: An Illustrated Guide to Food Politics. She blogs at www.foodpolitics.com.
The Internationalization of the Obesity Epidemic: The Case of Sugar-Sweetened Sodas
Since the early 1980s, the prevalence of obesity and overweight has increased in the United States to the point where about two-thirds of the US population can be classified as one or the other by the criterion of body mass index. Obesity is accompanied by significant health consequences including an increased incidence of heart disease, some types of cancers, and type 2 diabetes, conditions that are now increasing globally not only in the industrialized nations of the world but in areas where it coexists with population groups that are underweight and undernourished. Mexico’s population is now at least as overweight or obese as that of the United States.
Multiple factors associated with food systems contribute to the worldwide rise in obesity prevalence. Global diets are becoming more energy dense and sweeter, and more people are eating away from home. Consumption of edible oils and animal products has increased in parallel with the rise in obesity. Increasing evidence links consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages to obesity in the United States and globally, especially among children. Public health measures to reduce the consumption of these beverages through educational programs, regulations about marketing to children, excise taxes, limits on serving sizes, have been resisted vigorously by the beverage industry. The industry’s political and economic influence often undermines or defeats proposed public health measures to limit consumption by vulnerable groups. As sales of snack foods and sweetened beverages falter in industrialized economies, multinational food companies have shifted marketing efforts to emerging low-income countries, especially in Asia and Latin America, where they are aggressively engaged in efforts to expand sales. These marketing trends have major implications for contributing to the rise in non-communicable diseases increasingly linked to overweight and obesity.
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