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18 October 2017

Obesity epidemic: end food market anarchy

Stephanie Hammond

At any given time nearly a billion people on the planet are hungry, and a third are malnourished. And yet a new report says the growing obesity crisis is set to cost $1.2 trillion a year worldwide from 2025.

Why is it that when so many workers and poor are going hungry, so many others of us are likely to suffer from obesity?

The research, conducted by the World Obesity Day organisation, found the US is likely to face the biggest health bill - from $325 billion a year in 2014 to $555 billion in 2020. That would factor in at $4.2 trillion over the next eight years.

Meanwhile the cost of treating obese people in Britain could reach as much as $247 billion.

The human cost of obesity-related illnesses like heart disease and diabetes is much more difficult to quantify. It will be felt most of all by those who can just about afford to pay for essentials, including food, especially with a cash-strapped NHS.


The establishment media often points the blame at working people.

But if it is the problem of individuals, why is the crisis set to become an epidemic worldwide? If the problem is simply 'awareness', why is it getting worse?

The fact is that the problem is systemic, and bound up with inequality and the profit system.

Good quality ingredients and the time to prepare them - with artificially inflated prices, combined with stagnation at best in real wages - are out of reach for many people. At the same time, the number of families depending on tinned meals from foodbanks has sharply risen.

There is enough food produced globally not only to feed everybody, but to feed everybody well. The irrational capitalist system throws away millions of tons of food every day, and with it deprives billions of human beings of the basic requirements for life.

The Socialist Party says that instead, production and distribution should be collectively owned and democratically planned. Then decent quality food can be produced sustainably, to ensure no one goes hungry again.

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