The Western food diet is not a healthy choice for humans and the environment

The Western food diet is not a healthy choice for humans and the environment

Change in Trends

There are of course, solutions available to this problem but that would require a change in eating habits around the world. This is a tedious task to do as eating patterns are deep rooted into culture and personal taste and in this case, the fact that it’s less expensive and available with ease does not help.


How it started

David Tilman, a professor of ecology working at the University of Minnesota conducted a study where he gathered and studied information ranging from over a 100 countries in order to identify what kind of food people were eating and how it affected their health. He noted that the movement had actullay begun in the 1960s. He observes, as the nations were industrialized, the populations increased and so did the earnings. More and more people started to adopt the western eating habits and diet.

Why it’s unhealthy

The Western diet is very high in processed or refined ingredients such as sugars, fats, oils and meat. As people started consuming more and more of it, they started getting fatter, and sicker. According to data, the excess amount on calorie intake is around 400-500 calories in the 15 richest nations of the world. Thus, people are taking in 500 extra calories, 500 more than what they need, and this is leading to weight gain issues. Overweight people are more at risk for diabetes, heart diseases, some forms of cancer and other such non-infectious problems.

Country statistics

Diabetes has shot to exponentially high rates in the States as well as the European countries. Heart disease has been on the rise and is now a major cause of death in the Western countries. Unfortunately, the adoption of western eating habits has become almost synonymous with industrialization. In case of Asian countries, the impact is going to hit even harder.

In China, the population suffering from diabetes has jumped from 1 percent to 10 percent over a span of 20 years which was their major industrialization phase. Mexico and Nigeria are on the same boat.

What happens next

Since the population is growing so much, more and more of forest areas and tropical lands are becoming farms and grasslands for grazing cattle to satisfy the food needs. The irony of the whole situation is that we are likely to have more greenhouse gas released in the future from agriculture because of the shift in diet. Tilman calls the link between the environment, human health and diet, “atrilemma.” It is a play on the word “dilemma.” One possible and obvious solution to the atrilemma is to leave the western diet behind. It will be a tough change, but it will be worth it.

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