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Globesity

Silvia Landi | South Africa, Mexico, Italy

South Africa, Township of Khayelitsha, Cape Town. Some women, dressed in typical South African clothes, eat during a political meeting organized in the township of Khayelitsha one of the poorest areas of Cape Town. During the meeting, have been offered to all present, free food and alcohol. Obesity epidemic, is not restricted to industrialized societies, many low - and middle - income countries are now facing a "double burden" of disease, and as the World Health Organization declares, it is not uncommon to find under-nutrition and obesity existing side-by-side within the same country, the same community and the same household. As The World Food Program underlines “undernutrition, when people do not get enough food, and obesity-itself a form of malnutrition, are two sides of the same coin, and together they inflict a socalled double burden of disease on people and economies, all over the world”

Obesity is considered as an epidemic threatening the world’s health. For the first time in human history, the world has more overweight than underweight people, and obesity is more common than undernutrition.

Experts state that this "epidemic" is largely a product of globalization and poverty, due to the fact that many cultures are abandoning their traditional local cuisine in favour of more caloric foodstuff and drinks. This has lead to the fact that people suffering from malnutrition have become obese.

Globesity it's an ongoing photojournalistic project, that describesthe global obesity epidemic, in some target countries and 3 different continents, where the epidemic is largely a product of globalization and poverty.

Thanks to the Through Woman's lens grant, I wish to expand my research to other continents, focusing on countries symbolizing this problem, because in the current context of economic slowdown, undernutrition is declining, but overnutrition is expected to become the largest social and economic burden in the world. 

In the last decades, a new emergency is spreading alarmingly in the world, and it is called Globesity. Considered as an epidemic by the World Health Organization, Globesity is threatening the world’s health (WHO, 2014 data). 

The percentage of obese people in the world is currently growing at double the rate of people suffering from hunger or malnutrition. Indeed, for the first time in human history, the world has more overweight than underweight people, and – at global level - adult obesity is more common than undernutrition: in the world there are around 2.1 billion adults, and 41 million children under 5 who are overweight or obese, and most of the world's population live in countries where overweight and obesity kill more people than underweight, this includes all high-income and most middle-income countries (World Health Organization, Report 2001; World Health Organization, 2014 data; World Obesity Federation, 2015 data; Popkin BM, The world is fat, 2007).

Obesity has been considered for a long time the outcome of rich countries lifestyle, but at the moment, the social, economic, and political implications behind the modern phenomenon of Globesity are to be found not only in the excess of food, but also in its poor quality, and in the lack of access, by poorer sections of the population, to quality foods and adequate health care.

Experts state that this "epidemic" is largely a product of globalization and poverty, due to the fact that many cultures are abandoning their traditional local cuisine in favour of more caloric foodstuff and drinks. Globalization of agrifood and the growing presence of its processed-food and soda companies into nations where diets have traditionally consisted of healthy whole foods, has brought about remarkable shifts in diet patterns especially in developing countries.

This has lead to the fact that people suffering from malnutrition have become obese (Munster et al., 2009, BMC Public Health; Conklin et al., 2013, BMC Public Health; Laaksonen et al., 2004, Obesity Research; WFP, ECAC, The Cost of the Double Burden of Malnutrition: Social and Economic Impact; WHO, Obesity and overweight fact sheet N. 331; Mendez MA, Monteiro CA, Popkin BM. Overweight exceeds underweight among women in most developing countries, 2005; Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Healt, Obesity prevention source; Nutrition transition in South Asia: the emergence of non-communicable chronic diseases; World Food Program, The Cost of the Double Burden of Malnutrition: Social and Economic Impact 2017).

As The World Food Program underlines “undernutrition, when people do not get enough food, and obesity-itself a form of malnutrition, are two sides of the same coin, and together they inflict a socalled double burden of disease on people and economies, all over the world” (WFP, ECAC, The Cost of the Double Burden of Malnutrition: Social and Economic Impact).

"Globesity" is an ongoing photojournalistic investigation project, realized on three continents and three target countries (where it’s more evident the link between obesity and poverty) showing the phenomenon of obesity. 

My project aims to document various aspects of the spread of obesity, focusing my attention on how it is evolving the problem in several developing countries in the world, where it is more evident the link between obesity and poverty,in particular among low and middle-income countries. At the moment, the project was developed in 3 target countries:

Mexico: the percentage of obese Mexicans is higher than the US (32.8%), while 70% of people are overweight. In Mexico, 50% of the population lives below the poverty line, without access to quality food and eats inexpensive junk food and soft drinks (Mexico to reduce the consumption of drinks has introduced a sugar tax).

South Africa: in South Africa, million of people do not have access to adequate health care and healthy food. In this context, the change of eating habits of poorest segment of population, caused by the large spread of junck food and soda drinks, along with alcohol abuse and poverty, have triggered a rising tide of obesity and related diseases (69.3 per cent of South African women have unhealthy levels of body fat and more than four in ten are clinically obese).

Italy: the land of the Mediterranean diet, that is not immune to this problem. More than 57 thousand people die due to patologies caused by obesity, that is 1 thoausend every week, and according to datas collected in 2010, in Italy, 32% of adult are overweight, while 11% are obese, and Italy has one of the higest rate of child obesity in Europe.

Thanks to the Through Woman's lens grant, I wish to expand my research to other continents, focusing on countries symbolizing this problem, such as the Latin American countries (particularly in Brasil), where obesity, and the double burden of malnutrition, increasingly affects the poor and vulnerable population, thus becoming another cause for the current inequality.

In the current context of economic slowdown, the implications for the future of countries are worrying, beacause according to the recent studies, undernutrition is declining, but overnutrition is expected to become the largest social and economic burden in the world (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Obesity Update – June 2014; Popkin BM, The world is fat, 2007).

 

Silvia Landi, currently lives and works in Rome, Italy.

She has a degree in psychology and a master in psychotherapy, and she worked as a psychotherapist for several years before starting her career as a photographer.

She focusing her personal research works and documentary projects, mainly taking inspiration by social and anthropological issues and their psychological consequences. Currently she is working on a several projects around the theme of obesity, health and relationship with food, in Italy and abroad.

Silvia currently working as a freelance photographer and as a consultant for some Italian NGOs.

Globesity is a self-financing project.

Silvia Landi

mob. +39 6069970

silvia.landi13@gmail.com

www.silvialandi.com

 

Globesity, in 2017, won the "Food Sustainability media award" by Thomson Reuters Foundation and Barilla Center for food and nutrition, and was finalist at the "Premio Quinua Real Beca PhotOne Festival".

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