The OECD just released a report on obesity around the world, and there appears to be a link between the Great Recession and obesity.
The OECD compiled the following chart, showing the percentage of children who are overweight in each country.
Surprisingly, the U.S. does not top the list. While the U.S. had the highest obesity rate among adults, Greece had the largest proportion of overweight children.
The OECD found that families who suffer economic hardship end up cutting healthier foods out of their budget, instead buying cheaper food loaded with more calories, sugar, and fat.
From the report, in 2008 and 2009, “households in the United Kingdom decreased their food expenditure by 8.5% in real terms, with some evidence of an increase in calorie intake (the average calorie density of purchased foods increased by 4.8%). This change resulted in additional 0.08 g of saturated fat, 0.27 g of sugar and 0.11 g of protein per 100 g of purchased food.”
The OECD cites evidence that this link between economic hardship and increased consumption of unhealthy food existed throughout Europe, Australia, and the United States.
The recession even might have impacted exercise. In the U.S., after the economic crisis, leisure time exercise went up slightly, but this gain was more than offset by a huge loss in physical activity at work.
Here you can see how obesity rates change in later life, once we all get to work. The U.S. regains its top place, Greece drops away and Australia makes some serious ground on – but does not overtake – its Pacific neighbour New Zealand.
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