Malnutrition Rates Are Up Worldwide. Here's Why.

As the developing world because more urbanized, the "Western" diet is spreading all over the world -- and that's not a good thing.

Seventy percent of the world's population is expected to live in a city by 2050, according to a University Of Minnesota study. But with urbanization comes the spread of the Western diet -- and that's not a good thing.

Developing countries have generally relied on vegetables, fruits and legumes as their main food sources. But as these countries gain more access to more calorie-rich foods like red meat, salt, sugar and processed foods, malnourishment is paradoxically on the rise.

"People around the world, as incomes go up, choose more calories and meat in their diet," study author David Tilman said, according to CNN. "We have a whole new group of people who are malnourished because they eat foods that are no good for them, that have no nutritional benefit."

So, what does malnourishment mean? According to the United Nations World Food Programme, a malnourished person "finds that their body has difficulty doing normal things such as growing and resisting disease" and "physical work becomes problematic and even learning abilities can be diminished." Yikes.

Another study out of Tufts University looked at unhealthy food consumption in middle and low income countries and found that it increased dramatically between 1990 and 2010.

"Most global nutrition efforts have focused on calories -- getting starchy staples to people," study author Dariush Mozaffarian told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. "We need to focus on the quality of calories for poor countries, not just the quantity."

One thing's for sure: The Western diet, the world over, needs a huge revamp.


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