Nutritional teachings in rural Guatemala offer lessons for the world about healthy eating

Fresh fruits are on display in a market in Guatemala.  Oklahoma City-based World Neighbors and local partners are working with family farmers in San Martin, Guatemala, and other rural farming communities to relearn and teach traditional eating habits built on varied fruits and vegetables.

More than half the world’s population age 5 and older — 51%, or more than 4 billion people — are projected to be overweight or obese by 2035. This is according to a recent report from the World Obesity Federation. By comparison, 2.6 billion people worldwide (38% of the population) were overweight or obese in 2020. Obesity alone is expected to rise from 14% in 2020 to 24%, or nearly 2 billion people, by 2035.

The steepest increase is expected among youths ages 5 to 19, with the predicted obesity rate among boys doubling from 10% to 20% and more than doubling among girls, rising from 8% to 18%.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) categorizes obesity as a chronic disease. In addition to its direct harms, obesity increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, some cancers and other chronic diseases. All of these inflict suffering on individuals and families. They are also immensely expensive to treat and manage. Obesity and its attendant illnesses threaten to overwhelm health systems around the world.


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