According to Harvard School of Public Health, 500 million adults worldwide are obese. That’s almost double the global obesity rate in 1980. Globalization has scaled up poor nations in recent years, and they’re quick to accommodate the Western diet. No longer are less developed countries exempt from obesity. If nothing is done to reverse the trend, more than one billion adults are projected to be obese by 2030. One billion.
It seems there are two avenues to buck these trends — individual and systemic.
As an individual, we’re free to choose what we eat and how much we exercise. Lots of self-help philosophies are built backward from these decisions. But as much as we support healthy habits for ourselves, we must also tweak the infrastructures around us so that more sustainable health solutions are embedded in our routines and processes. I’m convinced that investments in these kinds of changes will yield bigger returns for the state of global health.
Take Russia as an example. Even with comparatively low obesity scores, they’re rewarding city commuters with free train rides in exchange for 30 squats on the spot. Change the system so it changes you.