By Cristina Sánchez Reyes
Obesity is a multifactorial problem that not only affects what we eat but also the socioeconomic pyramid, which makes this disease affect the most disadvantaged sectors to a greater degree, said Dr. Susana Socolovsky on Monday.
The outgoing president of the Argentine Association of Food Technologists ruled out that ultra-processed foods are entirely responsible for weight gain in the population because “what we eat from packaged origin is not necessarily responsible for obesity levels,” she said.
She added that eating well and healthily “is much more expensive than eating large amounts of calories.”
According to figures from the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 2 billion adults in the world are overweight or obese, that is, more than a quarter of the population.
This is a health problem that leads to the death of 4 million people every year because it triggers multiple diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, cancer, depression, disabilities, among other complications.
In Latin America, since 2016 it is estimated that 6 out of 10 adults are obese and at least 4 out of 10 women and more than 3 out of 10 men over 20 years of age are overweight.
While almost 40% of children suffer from obesity and more than 20% are above their ideal weight.
In Mexico, this problem is already considered an epidemic, affecting 70% of adults and 30% of children.
The specialist explained that there is an incorrect perception about processed products, since these arose two million years ago.
“They arose when we began to cook, ferment, dry and salt food,” she said.
She assured that the balance and composition of the diet has much more to do with obesity than the composition of processed foods.
She explained that in Guatemala the level of obesity is 21.2%, while in Germany it is 15% despite the fact that a large amount of packaged food is consumed in both nations.
“In Italy, one of the skinniest countries on the planet, they consume food from all origins,” she explained.
In this sense, he reiterated that it is known that what impacts on the energy consumed is the nutritional composition of the food or drink that is prepared either at home, in a restaurant or in the industry and if the composition is identical “the impact is the same”.
She added that you have to think about a diet based on a good composition of nutrients to ensure “not to increase body weight. We must control calories intake.”
IN DEBT TO EDUCATION
The expert pointed out that there is a “terrible social debt” since the population has not been educated to be able to have a healthier diet.
“We have not educated the population, we have not taught cooking, nutrition in schools as one of the fundamental subjects because eating habits are established during childhood,” he said.
She assured that one of the main challenges that scientists have is to guarantee that the population can access healthy food.
She recalled that the increase in population represents a significant challenge, since by 2050 it is estimated that there will be about 10 billion people in the world.
“Food is not going to be enough to feed everyone,” and noted that scientists are in favor of generating and producing safe and healthy food.
“That is the work of food science, to contribute safely and sustainably to feed the population,” she concluded.