International Nutrition: Obesity in Developing Countries
The case study I’m focusing on about obesity and diseases in developing countries due to poor nutrition with a focus of South Asia (Anoop, Bhardwaj 2013). As economic standards shift and conditions improve in developing countries, their nutritional health does not always improve with it. Factors like urbanization, reduced physical activity, and the overall nutritional transition are negatively impacting the health of people in developing countries (Anoop, Bhardwaj 2013). The study focuses on the people of South Asia and highlights how their low health budgets and low nutritional awareness is leading to the degradation of their health and altering their entire way of life (Anoop, Bhardwaj 2013). The overall poor health and high susceptibility for disease in developing nations has a multitude of causes and impacts including poor nutritional conditions for infants in the lactation process, children’s vulnerability to nutritional problems, and food insecure peoples increased accessibility to processed foods.
Breast-feeding is crucial in the lives of infants. Breast-feeding improves the health of babies, helps them fight infections, and provides them with a sanitary food supply. However, infants only receive these health benefits if they are breast fed for the appropriate amount of time from a healthy mother. Developing nations struggle with food security and adequate nutrition but this can be especially harmful to mothers and infants. The problem in these nations is improving the maternal diet to maintain a high level of lactation without depleting their protein levels (Gopalan, 1958). Undernutrition in infants increases their likelihood of dying before age 5 and will negatively impact the rest of their lives. Women and children are most vulnerable to negative nutritional impacts in health because of breast-feeding and other interactions (Anoop, Bhardwaj 2013). It has also been shown that perinatal undernutrition in children can make them more susceptible to metabolic syndrome and diabetes in adulthood. (Anoop, Bhardwaj 2013). Overall, the health infant health and nutrition is determined by length of breast-feeding and quality of maternal nutrition and can impact the child for the rest of their lives.
Other nutritional issues facing children is stunting, growth, and overall nutritional deficiencies (Stromquist, 1998). Children are the most influential demographic because their minds and bodies are quickly developing and growing. Children have high growth rates, small stomach capacities, and less developed immune systems that increase their susceptibility to illness and malnutrition (Stromquist, 1998). Children also suffer from high rates of stunting due to inadequate food and poor health (Stromquist, 1998). This prevents them from growing and developing properly and makes them most influenced by health influxes and nutritional problems. I think on an ethical basis, that educational focus on health and nutrition must be focused towards children in developing nations. I think the beneficence theory supports this because we should be actively doing good things to help these children live healthier, happier lives. As these developing countries see an increase in their economic standings, they should be educated and helped with how to become healthy and stay healthy. It is only fair that everyone has access to the same benefits and nutritional knowledge. It is not right to see high rates of iron deficiency, protein energy malnutrition, iodine deficiency, and more in developing nations (Stromquist, 1998) when wealthy, food secure nations have the ability to help.
Another way wealthy nations are negatively impacting developing nations is providing them with packaged foods and spreading their susceptibility to western diseases. As the food chain of developing countries shifts, so does their diet (Popkin, 2014). These food insecure countries have seen an increase in packages foods, processed food and drinks (Popkin, 2014). These unhealthy foods are becoming more easily accessible and they are also changing the drivers of the food system at an agricultural level and moving it in a negative, unhealthy direction (Popkin, 2014). These types of food and this lifestyle of eating is increasing their rates of obesity, increasing diseases, and overall depleting their health and nutrition levels (Anoop, Bhardwaj 2013). Western diets and diseases are reaching developing nations, however they do not have the budgets to help people with these diseases or educate people on disease prevention. Children suffer the most from these nutritional inadequacies and suffer with these diseases and issues the longest as they move into adulthood. I think the utilitarian theory should motivated wealthy nations to change the food system for the better and move to healthier diets in order to benefit the greater good. The diets and food availability created by wealthy, western cultures influences the rest of the word, especially developing countries. In order to improve the health of the world and allow everyone to have the right to health, we must all change to healthier diets and actively educate the world on healthy, nutritious lives.
As economic conditions improve in developing countries they are exposed to a multitude of more issues involving health and nutrition. These societies have a long way to go before they are economically stable and entirely food secure, but they are still forced to deal with a changing food system and must deal with diseases like obesity and nutrient deficiencies. Education is key in helping these people and active lifestyles must be incorporated into healthy diets to improve the nutrition of children starting as infants and following them through the rest of their lives.
Gopalan, C. "Studies On Lactation In Poor Indian Communities." Journal of Tropical Pediatrics 4.3 (1958): 87-97. Web.
Misra, Anoop, and Swati Bhardwaj. "Obesity and the Metabolic Syndrome in Developing Countries: Focus on South Asians." International Nutrition: Achieving Millennium Goals and Beyond Nestlé Nutrition Institute Workshop Series 78th Nestlé Nutrition Institute Workshop, Muscat, March 2013 (2014): 133-40. Web.
Popkin, Barry M. "Nutrition, Agriculture and the Global Food System in Low and Middle Income Countries." Food Policy 47 (2014): 91-96. Web.
Stromquist, Nelly P. Women in the Third World: An Encyclopedia of Contemporary Issues. New York: Garland Pub., 1998. Print.