If Left Unchecked
As US President Donald Trump’s administration throws sharp elbows in trade negotiations and systematically rescinds regulations introduced by President Barack Obama, one casualty is likely to be efforts to fight the global obesity epidemic. Left unchecked, rapidly rising obesity rates could slow or even reverse the dramatic gains in health and life expectancy that much of the world has enjoyed over the past few decades.
Through the WI lens
The Harvard economist was one of the first to propose a tax on processed food, whose proceeds could be used to subsidize healthier alternatives. His article serves as a useful reminder that things will get worse before they improve. The reasons are twofold: (1) Obesity rates are increasing around the world, led by some of the richest countries: the US, the UK and Canada. In emerging markets, the obesity problem is also getting worse because American companies and lobbyists are imposing their food culture by all possible means; (2) President Trump – a fast food fan – will rescind all kinds of regulations introduced by President Obama, affecting efforts to fight the global obesity epidemic.
What’s going to happen next is unclear… At the high-end of the income curve, the obesity epidemic will strengthen the wellness resolve of the tiny but fast-expanding minority who cares about the quality of its food. Organic and properly sourced food will continue to grow faster than the industry average. Otherwise, the perennial fight between the legislators and business lobbies will intensify. Obesity taxes (and thin subsidies) will be tried around the world. The agri-business and beverage industries will fight back.
What this article goes on to explain is how positive thinking – described here as ‘thriving’ – can counter the effects that come from the negativity outlined above, from reduced memory to diminished performance. Based on studying people in a series of organisations in different industries, one of the authors has found that people who attain this state are more resilient, experience less burnout, and are more confident in their ability to take control of a situation
“Behind the jargon what this is really about is how we address the challenge of biodiversity under threat, move away from fossil materials like plastic and concrete, and use nature in a sustainable way, all of which could be summed up by “living in harmony with nature”.”
“In the new ‘consensual contract’ between employer and worker, what’s required is a commitment from the employer to safeguard the wellbeing of their people, and a commitment in return from employees to take personal responsibility for their performance of their job.”
“Could loneliness not only be damaging our mental and physical health but also be making the world a more aggressive, angry place? And if so, what are the implications for a cohesive society and democracy?”
“On such fragile foundations are built the first steps towards a more ethical kind of business, and who knows what virtuous circles might result?”
“Scientific evidence recently emerged that, contrary to earlier beliefs, Covid-19 can be spread by tiny droplets that we breathe out when we respire, called aerosols.”
“Economic wellbeing is part of the story, but it is also about finding less stressful lifestyles, in which healthy diet figures as a meaningful measure of success.”
“The industry has every asset needed to be a guiding light in the shift toward personal health priority. Will that become a prevention legacy, a ‘phoenix rising’ from the Covid-19 ashes?”
“Looking at the bigger picture, putting the measures in this order represents a lost opportunity that the pandemic could have offered for a cultural pivot pivot towards getting people more focused on their health, a powerful statement of intent.”
“Employment is necessary to fulfil our most basic human needs such as food and shelter. Any significant increase in long-term unemployment will spell a retrograde step for human wellbeing like no other.”