This Chart Shows That Humanity Isn’t Yet Prepared For A World Of Abundance by Patrick Cox, Mauldin Economics
We have reached the tipping point in the West where our lives are increasingly characterized by abundance rather than scarcity. Until very recently, most humans have struggled to obtain the basic necessities. It’s no longer the case, and the most obvious sign is in the realm of basic nutrition.
The Lancet medical journal recently published an article that reviews trends regarding the global body mass index (BMI). Simply put, the paper documents the fact that world is getting fat.
That led to a series of articles in major media, such as “Obesity Is Now a Bigger Global Problem Than Hunger.” Bloomberg’s rather amusing take on this trend was the article “The World May Have Too Much Food.”
Here’s a chart from the article:
More obesity and diseases
We should first recognize that intellectual elites seem particularly susceptible to apocalyptic thinking. While they worried about famine, scientists, engineers, and business people ushered the world into a new world of abundance.
Does this mean our problems are over?
Not at all.
When we should have been preparing for abundance, governments were obsessed with scarcity. Now, abundance is creating an entirely new set of problems.
The rapid increase in worldwide obesity has enormous implications, including a quadrupling in adult diabetes since 1980, but it is only one aspect of abundance.
The human race has never before experienced affluence of the sort that is common in the West and spreading throughout the rest of the world. So we know that most people won’t adopt the life-style changes needed to significantly reduce obesity.
The instinctive drive to consume excess calories in times of plenty worked well for our ancestors who experienced periodic cycles of feast and famine. However, that drive causes diseases and huge medical bills in the modern world of permanent feast.
A bigger burden for future generations
Despite these problems, life spans continue to increase. So we will see more and more people who are older suffering from heart disease, diabetes, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and the other diseases that go up with BMI.
These diseases tended to kill people much earlier before the arrival of modern biotechnology. Today government budgets creak under the strain of increasingly older populations. Pension payments are already the single largest budgetary component for most Western economies. The situation, however, will get even worse.
In the past, each generation tended to be significantly larger than the preceding generation, which made it easier to pay its forebears’ debts. That is no longer the case. Every subsequent generation from now on will be smaller than the one before it.
We have no choice but to foster the development of medical solutions for obesity and obesity-related diseases in order to solve the abundance problem.
The problem is that medical science is not keeping up with other areas of the economy and the regulatory process adds decades of delay and trillions of dollars to the cost of new biotechnologies.
But that’s another story…
Grab Patrick Cox’s fascinating report on today’s anti-aging supplements straight from the biotech lab.