It’s not just happening in the U.S.–people are getting fatter all over the world. Processed foods, which are high in saturated fats, sugar and salt, may be the cause, according to the World Health Organization. Surprisingly, the problem has similar causes in both the West and in developing countries. The rise in single parent households, or families where both parents work, means families rely more on fast foods and frozen foods. In developing countries, increased incomes make these foods affordable, even though they cost more than traditional dishes, which are often time consuming to prepare. The problem is worse in cities, partly because people no longer live near their extended families. In many cultures, the older generation once stayed home and cooked for everyone.

More than a billion people worldwide are now overweight, and 300 million of them are clinically obese, meaning their weight can bring on disease. Researcher Tim Lang says, “Probably the single fastest way to reduce strokes?is to halve the amount of salt that’s added to processed food. We also need to teach people basic cooking skills so they can turn fresh fruit and vegetables into things they want to eat.”

We may eat the same foods all over the world, but we still dream different dreams.

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