Global Diets Are Converging, With Benefits and Problems


New research has shown that diets are changing in complex ways worldwide. 

New research has shown that diets are changing in complex ways worldwide. International food supply patterns are supporting healthier diets in parts of the world, but causing underweight and obesity elsewhere. They are also having important effects on environmental sustainability, with potentially worrying consequences.

Dr James Bentham, Lecturer in Statistics at Kent’s School of Mathematics, Statistics and Actuarial Science, led the research alongside Professor Majid Ezzati from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London and other UK and international colleagues. The researchers carried out the study analysing food supply data for 171 countries from the 1960’s to 2010’s.

The team discovered that South Korea, China and Taiwan have experienced the largest changes in food supply over the past five decades, with animal source foods such as meat and eggs, sugar, vegetables, seafood and oilcrops all becoming a much larger proportion of diet. In contrast, in many Western countries the supply of animal source foods and sugar has declined, particularly in high-income English-speaking countries such as the UK, US, Canada and Australia. The researchers also found that many countries around the world have seen an increase in vegetable-based diets. The sub-Saharan Africa region showed the least change, with a lack of diverse food supply, and this could be an explanation for the region’s malnutrition.

Read more at University of Kent

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