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Obesity and the Nutrition Transition

Reviewing data from around the world, Barry Popkin assessed associations between activity, food intake, and health over time and found “a marked shift in the structure of the diet.” Not only are dietary changes tied to increases in obesity, but they are occurring so rapidly that both malnutrition and obesity are co-existing in the same households.
The Journal of Nutrition. March 2001; 131(3):871S-873S (Popkin)

Traditional High-Fiber, Low-Fat Diet Protects Against

A study from Oregon Health Services University examined the impact that a transition to a more ‘affluent’ diet had on thirteen Tarahumara Indians (five women and eight men).  Tarahumara Indians are a Mexican people traditionally consuming a low-fat, high-fiber diet and with very low incidence of risk factors for cardiovascular disease.  The thirteen subjects were fed their traditional diet (2700 kcal per day) for one week and were then fed a diet typical of affluent societies, which contained excessive calories (4100 kcal per day), total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol for five weeks.  After five weeks of consuming the affluent diet, the subjects’ mean cholesterol levels increased by 31%, and plasma triglyceride levels also increased by 18%.
New England Journal of Medicine 1991 Dec 12;325(24):1704-8. (McMurry et al.)