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Health & Wellness

Obesity expert says world is picking up America's bad habits

Mike Desmond/WBFO News

Billions of people across the world are joining Americans in obesity, eating too much, too fattening food and not getting enough exercise. That's the message a global obesity expert brought to the University at Buffalo Wednesday.North Carolina University Nutrition Professor Barry Popkin was at UB delivering the J. Warren Perry lecture. The nutrition professor studies nutrition and obesity around the world, with a special focus on China as it changes.

Popkin is best known for the book The World is Fat, reflecting his surveys saying there are two billion obese people in the world and hundreds of millions malnourished, nearly a reverse over recent decades as food supplies improve. He says food companies are marketing bad foods to people.

"There are some bad foods like soft drinks and sugary beverages and such and there are excessive food intake. We are eating too much. We are eating too many calories, which is why we are overweight. It's not whether it would be you saying it's McDonalds or me saying it's Twinkies. We're eating too much," Popkin said.

Popkin says China's obesity problem is magnified because food marketers have persuaded the Chinese to join in a snacking habit which is making Americans fat. He says he has watched as food marketers sold snacking as part of eating, something not true before 1950.

Asked to look at the predominantly undergraduate audience and offer one bit of advice, Popkin said drink water, not sugary water.

The lecture is named for the founding dean of what is now UB's School of Public Health and Health Professions.