Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Fat Chance

Journalist Bodzin has an interesting article about how obesity is taking over Latin America.

There have been some reports about this before. We heard and read about this already 8 years ago about such places as South Africa.

Already in May of this year I could read an article in El Universal telling us Venezuelans are yet again climbing another of those negative rankings and went from being the 6th most obese on Earth to being Nr 5.

Causes are complex. In Venezuela we have the added factor of criminality: the average citizen in Venezuela has over 40 more chances of getting murdered than in Chile and usually he gets murdered when he is on the streets.

The last times I have been in Venezuela I was surprised to see so many obese people there were now. It was not surprising but rather ironic to see so many ads about light beer, Coke, butter, you name it. I would eat with friends and I could see how their appetite was out of control and they hadn't noticed it at all. We would for instance be out eating some cachapas and I would see the cheese slices in those cachapas were three times thicker than I knew them...and my friends and relatives didn't even notice that. They also didn't miss the salads and healthy sauces I used to get before.

So: apart from new stress, less time, less spaces for doing sports, we have the issue of oblivions: we forget what our habits and culinary traditions were. 

In Venezuela those who can afford it often take the easy but dangerous and unsustainable way: go for surgery.

Obesity will cost us a fortune in the middle to long term. 

Do you think a government or the media will do anything about that?


  1. Is that caused by Monosodium Glutamaat (MSG)?

    1. No idea, Aagje. Interesting link. There seem to be conflicting studies, though. In any case, I try as much as I can to avoid MSG...but I am sure other things play a very important role in the fattening of our society: all kinds of flavour enhancers, lack of time for cooking/eating, still less time for exercise, etc.
      Let's see. I bought an interesting book about the Okinawa diet and another one by Andrew Weil (about the 8 week health programme). Both have tips that make sense to me.

  2. I don't think Venezuelan cuisine could be considered under any circumstance as healthy. Patacon, arepa, cachapa and mondongo are good examples of not-so-healthy Venezuelan dishes.

    I think there are several factors that lead to the increase in obesity. First, people have more money due to the monetary expansion under Chavez's government. However, that hasn't translate into necessarily more purchasing power. Vegetable, fruits, meat, fish are still out of reach for many people. People eat mostly price regulated products such as pasta, bread and Harina PAN that are rich in carbohydrates. Even if poor people were able to buy vegetables and fruits, they'd need water to wash them, and running water is still a luxury product in most households in Venezuela. In addition to that, people are not well informed about what constitutes a healthy diet.

    1. Rotundo, I honestly don't know. I mean: arepas and cachapas, for instance, were eaten before with much less butter and meat and everything. As I said: when I was a child, people would be getting a slide of cheese that was a fraction of what they eat now.
      Some time ago my relatives and I were going through old pictures of our parents...and they were on the beach and they looked really sportive...and my cousins were laughing and saying "oh, dear, shame on us, we are fat and at our age they had such bodies".

      I will write more about eating habits in the past.

      One thing is for sure: before we would walk more.


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