Fat Is Bad but Beautiful

The Economist, December 17, 2011

{snip}

Last month President Jacob Zuma’s larger-than-life nephew, Khulubuse Zuma, a mining magnate not yet 40, said he could not testify at an insolvency hearing into one of his gold mines because he was too ill with a heart disease owing to his weight and lavish lifestyle.

It is no longer just the inhabitants of the rich world whose waistlines are spreading dangerously. Though 40% of its 50m people live off less than $2 a day, South Africa has become one of the world’s fattest countries. Six out of ten South Africans are now clinically overweight or obese, according to a recent survey by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), a pharmaceutical company. So, apparently, are a quarter of teenagers and one in six children under nine. Another study, by London’s Imperial College, found as many as three-quarters of South African women to be overweight, up from 57% in 1980; it classified 43% as obese, up from 24% in 1980. Men are only a shade trimmer, with 62% reckoned overweight.

As in the richer world, South Africa’s accumulating kilos are the result of rapid urbanisation, less physically demanding work, the spread of television, and a shift in diet from home-cooking to processed foods rich in fats and sugar. The country’s fast-food industry is booming. But whereas most Westerners seek to be thin, many black Africans still admire bulk in men and big contours in women. President Zuma’s four wives are all chubby.

Seven out of ten South Africans in the GSK survey said they had never been on a diet. {snip}

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  • Anonymous

    All I can say is that you white South Africans had better get fighting fit. Do some age and health apporpriate fitness activities if you can.

  • Anonymous

    So perhaps they could send food to Somalia, or Zimbabwe.

  • Girlish

    “But whereas most Westerners seek to be thin, many black Africans still admire bulk in men and big contours in women. President Zuma’s four wives are all chubby.

    Seven out of ten South Africans in the GSK survey said they had never been on a diet.”

    Well at least that’s one good thing about blacks. They’re not trying to conform to impossible beauty standards like whites.

  • Madison Grant

    I have great news for you South Africans:

    Your land is going the way of Zimbabwe. That means in the next two decades very few of you will suffer from obesity.

    Because of the mass starvation that comes to every nation run by blacks.

  • sbuffalonative

    It is no longer just the inhabitants of the rich world whose waistlines are spreading dangerously.

    The writer makes this statement a couple of times. However, I believe it’s misleading.

    My observation has been that blacks and Hispanics are overweight in the United States. I did a quick search and I came up with CDC numbers which confirm my observation:

    Compared with whites, Blacks had 51% higher and Hispanics had 21% higher obesity rates

    http://www.cdc.gov/Features/dsObesityAdults/

    Blacks and Hispanics are skewing the numbers regarding obesity in wealthy nations like the US.

    Take blacks and Hispanics out of the equation in the US and rates of obesity would be much lower.

    There is little media attention to this racial and ethnic breakdown because the do-gooders want us to believe that obesity is an equal opportunity issue. They frame the issue to make it seem like we’re all responsible. We’re not.

    Just look at any marathon. Although blacks come in first, 99% of the runners are white. They don’t run for the glory. They run to keep fit.

  • Rhialto

    Perhaps the black ZAers are packing on the blubber to help them through the famines that will occur when white men are finally eliminated from their African paradise. I commend them for their foresight.

  • Kenelm Digby

    I rememner reading not so long ago, that former South African president Thabo Mbeki claimed that AIDS was a ‘disease of poverty’ and apparently had nothing to do with the sexual transmission of the HIV virus.

    Real poverty and big, fat bellies don’t go together.

  • Anonymous

    Cheap carbs and dangerous cities you don’t want to walk in = fat. You see the pattern everywhere in the world. Safe parks can cut a community’s obesity in half, but there’s more money in giving speeding tickets to decent citizens.

  • stonelifter

    being height/ weight proportional and fit hardly seems an impossible beauty standard

  • Netzach

    #3,

    “Well at least that’s one good thing about blacks. They’re not trying to conform to impossible beauty standards like whites.”

    No. Just beauty standards which are, unfortunately, as possible as they’re unhealthy. Not my problem of course, at least not until some tinfoil hat with superior skin colour sees a white plot in it. “Eek, McDonalds is trying to give us heart attacks and diabetes by selling us fatty food! See, they’re specifically targeting us with that 365black thing!”

  • America First

    “Just look at any marathon. Although blacks come in first, 99% of the runners are white. They don’t run for the glory. They run to keep fit.”

    The blacks who win or place are ALWAYS from eastern Africa (Kenya, Ethiopia, etc.) and never from the western (or southern or central) Africa, nor are they American or Caribbean blacks. And those that do win are professionals, i.e., they run for the money, as a living. I used to do sprint triathlons (not even the longer, more difficult ones), and with hundreds of participants, I rarely, if ever saw any blacks participating.

  • South African

    Some subjective observations.

    Don’t know about fat – I see fat and skinny people everyday. Did the survey include the millions of squatters or did they only target the well-off?

    Some of my generation are so overweight they won’t fit into the turret of a tank anymore. But if you pass the forties, it get harder by the year keeping that spare tire away from your waist. your metabolism slows down, and we whites are an aging population, like everywhere in the world.

    In the old days (before 1994)a fat black woman meant that she was well-off and a skinny one was one that lived in poverty. The black staple diet was porridge and white bread which made them fat but unhealthy, today’s bread has vitamins added to it by law.

    Once I heard a health program on radio, where the physician talked about the ANC cadre. When they were incarcerated at Robben Island they had to do hard labor, they were skinny and fit. When they were released and got into office they caught all the Western affluence illnesses – fat, overweight and joint complaints.

    As for whites – long office hours and too much daily commuting in long traffic jams. They work their backsides off in order to support this system and at the same time maintaining a middle-class existence. There’s no time for sports and such luxuries, except weekend dozing behind the TV and relaxing and watching rugby and cricket. But that is not strictly true – you still get quite a lot of people who participate in cycling, club rugby and road running (sunshine country, outdoor lifestyle).

    McDonalds and other convenience foods – that’s a problem as work pressure invades the household. In my days the mothers stayed at home and made healthy dinners while the Dads worked. There was no thing like McDonalds. Once I sold some direct marketing products from GNLD (same league like AMWAY) in my spare time and on one of their rallys they told us that the first thing on liberation of an African country from white rule the American Coca-Cola culture was introduced – fast food and coke for a quick buck. But McDonalds hat some strong headwind from local long established fast-food outlets so they had to close some branches, now they decided to build some connections in the ANC (the old palm-grease Africa thingy) to kick-start business again:

    http://www.mcspotlight.org/media/press/argus_15sep96.html

    http://www.southafrica.info/business/investing/mcdonalds-220311.htm

    One thing is for sure – in my days you had bicycles and lost of outdoor activity at school, low traffic and no crime. After school you went for your two years military service where you supposedly where to become a man and as fit as a fiddle and afterward for 10 years you could be called up for 2/3 months military camps (correct me if I am wrong but we civilians had the longest period of military service of all countries). We had no DVDs or PC games (TV only introduced in 1976).

    Today’s youngsters sit locked behind high walls and barbed wire, glued to their TV games. Parents are scared to let their children out on their own due to crime and due to the high traffic volume and reckless driving patterns.

    If South Africa is going the way to Zimbabwe? Don’t know. Zimbabwe is a convenient example but there are many roads to Rome, one could just as well have used Mozambique and Angola as an example. We might end up like Zimbabwe but on a different road. So far it is not yet Zimbabwe, there are positive things on the balance sheet but also negative entries.

    We have plenty of minerals like Australia (recession hedge), but a lot of corruption and crime and a pending National Democratic Revolution (Fabian communism – the slow version). Follow http://censorbugbear-reports.blogspot.com/ for details for those readers who don’t yet know this website.

    According to the Dagong Global Credit Rating Co (alternative Chinese rating agency, seen as less manipulated by some observers than Moodys or Standard and Poors) we have an A rating (stable outlook), much better than many European countries.

  • Anonymous

    @ 5

    I think you are being a little misleading as well. Most of those black runners are from Africa not America. Africans from Africa tend to be tall and thin.

  • Anonymous

    Who wants to bet that the vast majority of the obese South Africans are black? No doubt there are obese white people around the world, but blacks worldwide seem to be prone to obesity.