I’m seeing a lot of headlines based off a new OECD report showing America is the fattest country on earth (which will be no surprise to anyone who’s traveled anywhere) but I think the real story here is that the trends are universally upwards:
What you’d like to see in international data is some example of a prosperous country where obesity isn’t just at a lower level than in the United States, but where there’s no rate of increase. But we don’t have one. And the mechanism isn’t necessarily all that mysterious. Historically speaking, the smart way to live is that when food is plentiful you eat more calories than you burn and that way when food is scarce you don’t die. But as objective food scarcity vanishes, this approach leads to some not-so-hot public health outcomes. It’s clear that some local food cultures are healthier than others, but that’s not the same as saying that they’re immune to the underlying forces.