（2018上）Improved human well-being is one of the greatest triumphs of the modem era. The age of plenty has also led to an unexpected global health crisis: 2 billion people are either overweight or obese. Developed countries have been especially susceptible to unhealthy weight gain. However, developing countries are now facing a similar crisis. Obesity rates have peaked in high income countries but are accelerating elsewhere. The combined findings of the World Health Organization and the World Bank showed that in 2016 Asia was home to half the world's overweight children. One quarter were in Africa. This crisis will test the political resolve of governments that have focused on ending hunger. These governments must understand that the factors making cities convenient and productive also make their residents prone to obesity. Urbanites enjoy a variety of foods. International fast food chains are flourishing in developing countries. The health risks of such diets are compounded by the sedentary lifestyles of urban dwellers. People’s leisure time is also being occupied by television, movies, and video games in a growing number of households.
The alarming implication of these trends is that developing countries may become sick before they get rich. That sickness may, in turn, cripple health systems. The yearly healthcare costs in Southeast Asia from obesity-related complications like diabetes and cardiovascular disease are already as high as $10 billion. Such diseases are an added burden on countries already struggling to manage primary health care needs. Policies related to taxation, urban design, and education may help control obesity at a lower cost than eventual medical treatment for an increasingly overweight population. Some governments have already intervened to control obesity by implementing taxation on unhealthy foods and drinks. Thailand, Brunei, and Singapore have adopted the soda tax. South Africa is likely to introduce a sugar tax beginning in April 2018. The city of Berkeley in California recognizes that taxes alone are not enough to address obesity. The city’s sugar tax revenues are used to support child nutrition and community health programs. This underscores the importance of education.
There is also promise in many initiatives. Urban design holds significant power to reshape lifestyles and public health. Improving the attractiveness of public space can draw residents out of their cars and living rooms. A recent study of urban neighborhoods in Shanghai and Hangzhou found that residents living in more walkable neighborhoods enjoy better health than residents who lived in less walkable neighborhoods in urban China. Finally, healthier lifestyles begin in grocery store aisles. Governments should encourage tighter connections between agricultural production systems, urban grocers and food vendors. Such initiatives can also help urban residents better understand how food is sourced. This raises awareness about the relationship between natural foods and healthy lifestyles. Combining controls on unhealthy foods with policies that encourage healthy eating and active lifestyles can reduce obesity rates. Improving public health is an important policy developing countries should take from both an economic and social point of view. To quote the recent Global Nutrition Report, reducing obesity will boost global development.