Can I Have Some Hummus With That?

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Like Mediterranean food? So do people in Mediterranean countries. More and more of it these days. And, increasingly, according to a recent UN Food and Agriculture Organization study, lots of other, not-so-healthy foods as well. From the UN News Centre:

People on the shores of the Mediterranean have used higher incomes to add a large number of calories from meat and fats to a diet that was traditionally light on animal proteins. What they now eat is “too fat, too salty and too sweet,” [FAO Senior Economist Josef] Schmidhuber reports.

In the 40 years to 2002, daily intake in 15 European nations increased from 2,960 kilocalories to 3,340 kilocalories – about 20 per cent. But Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus and Malta, who started out poorer than the northerners, upped their calorie count by 30 per cent.

Improving economies certainly explain part of this story, as the tendency of people with more disposable income to want to eat more meat is part of a global trend — one that, particularly in China, is contributing to rising food prices and environmental degradation. As the study soberly points out, though, high levels of obesity are also caused by people eating more and exercising less. Go figure.

(Photo by Flickr user hazy jenius used under a Creative Commons license.)

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