Impact of Globalization on Children's Nutrition

Session Date: 
Dec 7, 2012
Session Order: 
11
Speakers: 

Globalization is, in part, an economic force to bring about a closer integration of national economies. Food globalization brings about nutritional transitions. The most common transition today is the shift from a diet based on locally-grown, minimally refined vegetable foods supplemented with small amounts of animal food to the ‘modern diet’ of globally sourced highly processed foods, rich in saturated fat, animal products, and sugar, but poor in some nutrients and low in fiber. The Maya people of Mexico and Central America are a poignant case of globalized diets. The Maya are the largest population of Native Americans, 7-8 million people, and one of the shortest in average height. Our research finds that the children of Maya migrants to the city of Merida, Mexico and to the United States also tend to be overweight. The combination of shortness and overweight comes with many risks for poor health. The case of the Maya is not isolated and many other children suffer the effects of food globalization. We must come to terms with the impact of globalization if we are to improve child health and the well-being.

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