-- Robert Preidt
THURSDAY, Dec. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Nations with open trade
policies have greater densities of fast food restaurants and higher
rates of obesity than those with more trade controls, a new study
"It's not by chance that countries with the highest obesity rates and fast food restaurants are those in the forefront of market liberalization, such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, versus countries like Japan and Norway, with more regulated and restrictive trade policies," lead researcher Roberto De Vogli, an associate professor in the University of Michigan School of Public Health, said in a university news release.
For example, the analysis of data from 26 wealthy nations showed
that the United States has 7.5 fast food restaurants per 100,000
people, and the density in Canada is 7.4 per 100,000. Obesity rates
in the United States are 31 percent for men and 33 percent for
women, and obesity rates in Canada are about 23 percent for men and
In comparison, Japan has 0.13 fast food restaurants per 100,000
people and Norway has 0.19 per 100,000 people. Obesity rates in
Japan are 2.9 percent for men and 3.3 percent for women. Obesity
rates in Norway are 6.4 percent for men and 5.9 percent for women,
according to the study published in the December issue of the
Critical Public Health.
The effect that market forces have on obesity is largely
overlooked, according to De Vogli.
"In my opinion, the public debate is too much focused on individual genetics and other individual factors, and overlooks the global forces in society that are shaping behaviors worldwide. If you look at trends over time for obesity, it's shocking," he said in the news release.
"Since the 1980s, since the advent of trade liberalization policies that have indirectly . . . promoted transnational food companies . . . we see rates that have tripled or quadrupled. There is no biological, genetic, psychological or community level factor that can explain this. Only a global type of change can explain this," De Vogli stated.
The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney
Diseases outlines the
health risks of being overweight.
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