Alexandra Brewis, executive director of the university’s School of Human Evolution and Social Change and the study’s lead author, said she fully expected high levels of fat stigma to show up in the groups tested in the United States, London and New Zealand, as well as in body-conscious Argentina. But what she didn’t expect was the strong negative attitudes about weight in the other cultures. The results, she said, suggest a surprisingly rapid “globalization of fat stigma.”
“The change has come very, very fast in all these places,’’ said Dr. Brewis. “Of all the things we could be exporting to help people around the world, really negative body image and low self-esteem are not what we hope is going out with public health messaging.’’
Surprisingly, scores were high in Puerto Rico and American Samoa, as well as along the Mexican border and in Paraguay, places that have historically held more positive views of larger bodies. These cultures traditionally view bigger women, in particular, as fertile, generous and desirable, said Dr. Brewis.
About half of the people who get really into some foreign culture are full of wanderlust and find themselves too bored to sit still in their home region, while the other half were the losers in high school who are holding out hope that there's "still" someplace left on Earth where they would be enthroned at the apex of the popularity pyramid. ("Still" because celebrating the dork squad was part of the Garden of Eden way of life that civilization has corrupted.)
So, by ramming the carbs-good/fat-bad message into their culture, not only has the Western medical establishment worsened the prevalence of type II diabetes, heart disease, and blimpy body shapes in poor countries, but they're also responsible for the consequent "epidemic" of feeling rotten about the way you look.
Don't expect the experts, whether Western or the locals trained in the West, to start preaching the wonders of low-carb/high-fat eating, though. For the short and medium term, the holiness of grains is beyond question. And never under-estimate the power of human beings to rationalize poor choices -- like, all we need to do to help out the poor fat third-worlders is get them a greater supply of organic sweet potato chips, gluten-free pizza crusts, and vegan double-fudge brownies. Nothing unhealthy about any of that stuff.
After we fine and jail the hucksters of "financial science," we should go after those in "nutritional science" next.