Photo: Brazilian Getting Fatter
Although known for their perfect beach bodies, statistics are beginning to prove what is already becoming evident to an observer on the beach, Brazilians are getting fat. Although Brazilian women, famous for their itsy bitsy bikinis can still be found on the beaches, many are there with fuller midsections, hips and thighs. More men are still sun tanning in their Speedos, yet now also sporting large beer bellies.
Brazil’s economic boom has helped to create a consumer group that can afford daily restaurant meals and fast food more often. As a result, many healthy staples in the Brazilian diet such as sweet potatoes and fish are being replaced by beef, rice and potatoes.
The trend has begun to alarm local health officials. According to Gloria Valeria de Veiga, a professor at the Institute of Nutrition at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, “It’s the ‘American tendency.’ They don’t eat bananas, but they’ll eat cookies.”
According to a 2008-2009 study by the National Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, 33 percent of children ages five to nine were considered overweight, while 14 percent were obese. Among Brazilian teenagers, 20 percent were classified as overweight while 5 percent were considered obese. A shocking 50 percent of Brazilian adults were found to be overweight while 15 percent were considered obese.
According to Veiga, the weight among Brazilian teenagers has tripled since the 1970s. Public health officials, concerned by these statistics, have begun to fight back. Snack bars, soda, French fries, candy and cakes are banned from school cafeterias. Many cities are attempting to make working out more affordable for everyone by creating free workout stations in parks and alongside subway stations. Beach workouts are also becoming popular.