Friday, May 26, 2017

The Political Page, T+126 -- May 26, 2017


May 27, 2017: it's not bacon, candy, or pasta that is at the root of the US obesity epidemic.

Original Post

For what it was worth, CNBC had a short segment this morning on Americans "ditching" pasta due to concerns about obesity and gluten. They reported that Italians still eat record amounts of pasta. Americans eat about six pounds of pasta per person per year; Italians, about 33 pounds.

So, how do obesity rates compare?

The top ten most obese OECD countries, 2014 (interesting to see UK and its former colonies make up more than half the top-ten list):
1. US
2. New Zealand
3. Australia
4. UK
5. Mexico
6. Canada
7. Chile
9. Slovakia
10. Ireland
If you look at 192 countries around the world, pasta-eating countries are nowhere near the top:
1. Cook Islands -- in fact the South Pacific islands -- the ones that are sinking due to rising sea levels -- or maybe due to something else -- comprise the top five or six spots
2. the Middle Eastern countries of Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia pretty much round out the top 20, and all of those have obesity rates higher than the US
3. finally, we get to the US, at #19 on the list, followed by the Caribbean, UK and former colonies, Mexico, Chile, more south Pacific islands, and so forth
4. Finally, after going through most of the "recognizable" names in the rest of the world, Europe, South America, and Asia, we finally get to Italy -- the pasta-eating capital of the world ; coming in at #90
5. second from the bottom, the country where little pasta (or any real food for that matter) is eaten, North Korea, or known more prosaically as the Democrate People's Republic of Kore, #191 in a list of 192 countries
For what it's worth: I don't think pasta is the problem.

But that does surprise me --- one has to go through a long, long list to get to Italy. Where does the country best known for the healthy Mediterranean diet stand (or sit, as the case may be), Greece: #79.

It should be noted that the range of obesity (percent of obese adults) varies by very, very little once you get past the top 60 countries or so. The exception, of course, are the South Pacific Islands at the top, and the poverty-stricken countries at the bottom. Two exceptions at the bottom of the list: India (174) and Japan (185) out of 192 countries. I was surprised to see Cuba so high up the list, #57.

I Can't Make This Stuff Up

Between Maxine Waters, Barbra Striesand, and Nancy Pelosi, it's hard to say who has the best political jokes. Now, Nancy Pelosi is complaining that President Trump is not visiting foreign countries in alphabetical order. 

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