The saying goes you are what you eat – and the wealthier you are the fatter you are likely to be if you eat a lot of fast food meals, according to a report from the World Health Organisation.
The WHO is calling for governments to tackle obesity by cracking down on the proliferation of fast food outlets.
Doctors claim that having more money to spend leads to people buying more fast food – and these ultra-processed foods are triggering an epidemic of obesity worldwide.
The report links the opening of fast-food outlets with improving economies and worsening health.
Researchers plotted the number of outlets opening worldwide between 1999 and 2008 in 25 countries with the highest income per head.
Countries with the most obesity problems
The figures were them compared with body mass index (BMI) data from the same countries over the same period. The BMI is a measure of obesity.
The report revealed that countries where people earned more had a faster growth of fast-food outlets coupled with increasing obesity.
Canada, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand all showed faster growth rates on both counts.
On average BMI showed waists expanded from a BMI of 25.8 to 26.4 over the period. Anyone with a BMI of 25 is considered overweight.
Lots of BMI calculators are available on the internet to test your own weight.
One of the most accurate and easiest to use is on the BBC web site.
The web site says many people suspect they are overweight as their clothes get tighter with a BMI between 25 and 29.9. A BMI of 30 or more is considered obese.
“By then, that extra weight will have begun to damage blood vessels, the hormone system and joints.”
Risk of disease
Having a high BMI can increase the risk of diseases like:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
The report concluded fat and calories in fast-food meals can lead to obesity.
“Although we cannot exclude the possibility of measurement errors, factors other than calories and fat content may explain why fast food makes people fat,” the report said.
“Researchers need to investigate the effects of long-term eating of fast foods produced from the meat of animals fed on corn, kept in confinement and exposed to excessive fertilisation.”
The report suggested that governments should discourage people from eating fast food while more investigations are carried out and to see if eating less fast food reduced obesity problems.