Does globalization of the American food culture change global health?

Nowadays, with this huge amount of international travel,  import, export, the internet and social media we seem to become more global than ever. Globalization is defined as a world with a homogenous society, dominated by American culture. Coca-Cola, Starbucks and McDonalds are imbedded into our daily lives and could be declared as symbols of the American fast food industry. Globalization seems to cause changes in food preference over the world. One can wonder to in what extent local societies are influenced by this new food culture, that also result in an increasing amount of Western diseases. Is globalization a cause of chances in global health? How are children affected by these food habits?

The documentary ‘Way Beyond Weight’ portrayed shockingly how children deep in the inlands of Brazil are wining and crying for more Coca-Cola and chips. These children are overweight and some even diabetic at the age of 11. They refuse to eat fruit and did not recognize a cucumber nor kale. Scholars in the documentary identified this issue as a global pandemic of obese children. The main question asked in the documentary was who is to blame for this global pandemic. Causes given are the food industry, the parents, advertising agencies and the government. In the documentary, globalization is pictured as a negative occurrence due to its huge and negative impact on global health. According to Caprio (2008) globalization can affect obesity through promotion of travel and migration, trade of high-fat products and food marketing.

One can wonder that if these children around the world are already this obese and even diabetic, what the world would look like in 50 years. Before, a child with type 2 diabetic was rare but nowadays it is much more common. It seems like the problem is too big already to stop, especially with several multinationals with so much power. The change needs to come out of these corporations but one can wonder if that will ever happen. Governments could also have great positive influence, though they seem to be reluctant and probably influenced (or under pressure?) by the multinationals.

There are many aspects to globalization, but in terms of food cultural there seems to be occurring a problem so big that it cannot be turned around anymore. Globalization is often seen as a positive occurrence, but in terms of health it can be concluded it is not.  The main question is how this will develop further, taking into account the extent to which children already are influenced. Societies seem to adopt the same cultural identity in terms of food, all leaning towards the American culture. It is sad to realize that in the end, the most innocent people of our world, children are the ones that are influenced.

Reference list:

Caprio, S. et al. (2008). Influence of Race, Ethnicity, and Culture on Childhood Obesity. Diabetes Care, 31, 2211-2221. doi: 10.2337/dc08-9024.

Nisti, M. (Producer) & Renner, E. (Director). (2012). Way Beyond Weight. Brazil. Retrieved on March 16th from http://www.cultureunplugged.com/documentary/watch-online/play/11987/Way-Beyond-Weight

World Health Organization. (2016). Global report on diabetes

The picture is part of the documentary Way Beyond Weight.

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