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India Blames US Gluttony For Food Crisis — Are They Right?

Researches at an independent research institute in India think they've solved the food crisis — hold on to your drumstick — they say the US's voracious appetites that is to blame. That if Americans slimmed down to the weight of middle-class Indians, “many hungry people in sub-Saharan Africa would find food on their plates.” The spokesman for the organization added pointedly that the amount of money spent in the United States on liposuction to get rid of fat from excess consumption could be better spent feeding famine victims.

The super-sized backlash on American consumption stems partially from remarks made by President Bush about India’s growing middle class and food prices. He said, “when you start getting wealth, you start demanding better nutrition and better food, and so demand is high, and that causes the price to go up.”

An editorial in India slammed these comments, saying Bush was trying to pass the food inflation buck to India, instead of where India thinks it properly belongs. Figures may show they're right. The United States uses — or throws away — 3,770 calories a person each day (according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization) compared with 2,440 calories per person in India.

Is consumption to blame for the food crisis and grocery bill sticker-shock? Are factors like poor crops, climate change, biofuels, and fuel prices more to blame than the US liposuction habit? Is India making a fair point?


Join The Conversation
eshellmoyer eshellmoyer 9 years
Between Europe and America we have the ability to produce enough food for sub-Saharan Africa. It is certainly not my fat butt stopping that food from getting there. It is the wealthy world's inability to commit the financial resources needed to mobilize food resources to people who need them. Yeah, Bush's statement was stupid, but you don't counteract stupid statements by saying something else that's stupid. God, they have more than a billion people and they point the finger at a few of us fatties.
milosmommy milosmommy 9 years
I enjoyed that link sundaygreen. Thanks.
mjane79 mjane79 9 years
I think the US's consumption, and over-consumpation may contribute a little but I think most of the problem with the food crisis is political. There is plenty of food in the world, it just doesn't get to the people who need it because of wars, politics, money, things like that. I do think that perhaps the fact that we in the US import so much of our food instead of growing it here could contribute to the food crisis as countries are dedicating farm land to growing our food isntead of their own but I don't think that's the case in all countries.
BeautiJunki BeautiJunki 9 years
India's exploding population is their biggest reason for food shortages, if there was no planning for the population growth then there is no farm explanation to crow more food and I don't eat Indian fish or goat or fowl so i don't get it. I do sometimes eat fruit from Chile in the winter months. It isn't our fault we have enough land to support crops to feed our population. this may sound harsh but to me its a bit different than the droughts in Africa...that's not by choice. They're in a bad situation but it's not because I enjoy MacDonald's or Starbucks from time to time. I do hate to think of anyone being hungry tho, food should be a given everywhere but it is up to each countries government to make sure there is adequate food for each citizen.
sundaygreen sundaygreen 9 years
Personally, I think these two issues are somewhat disconnected from one another. There are actually two main factors that are contributing to the food crisis, one of them being the fact that (as someone else pointed out), people in India and China are actually changing their eating habits because they find themselves in a better economic position (they can now afford to eat more meat, for example - which puts pressure on the cereal industry). And, as most everyone knows, there's been a huge increase in the use of bio-fuels by developed countries - which means more land is being used to grow crops for fuel than for human consumption. I think that excessive consumption by first world countries (not just the USA) has ALWAYS been a contentious issue when compared to the kind of poverty that is felt in developing countries. So I can understand that it's now being highlighted as especially worrying considering we're experiencing what some people are calling 'the biggest crisis of the 21st century'. The worst thing about all this is that most of the people who are eating more than 3000 calories a day probably don't even know that there is a food crisis! Because they can happily go to a drive through and grab a burger for lunch. Anyway, he's an interesting slideshow about eating habits around the world:,29307,1626519_1373664,00.html
nyaradzom2001 nyaradzom2001 9 years
Hate to burst your bubble Undave but America is NOT the richest country in the world, with all your sub prime woes that would be kinda sad if it was. that honour goes to Qatar.It always makes me and my fiends laugh when people say America is the richest nation, most powerful yes,, richest in it's dreams. And why on earth are these Indian scientists going on sub saharan africa, when there are poor hungry people in India and Asia. anyway rice isn't the staple food of many african countries so they need to get their facts straight. If there was a cassava or maize shortage then maybe they could rant on our behalf.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
I can see their jealousy. I don't think it is our fault that they haven't bothered to develop better farming practices. That's what we lousy Americans did.
HappyKate HappyKate 9 years
well we do use to much and eat to much but saying that the 'food crisis' is the States fault is a little over the top. I do see their anger though.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
Good point Jillness but there are what they refer to as empty calories. Calories which are not beneficial to the body as nutrients.
Jillness Jillness 9 years
Also, isn't equating calorie content with quanity a little misleading? A poor child could easily eat a Big Mac extra value meal and take in 3000 calories at 11:00am, and still be hungry at the end of the day. Just because we tend to eat foods with high calorie content doesn't mean that we have nutrition, or that we are full all the time.
Bettyesque Bettyesque 9 years
Bettyesque Bettyesque 9 years
3700 is not that hard to believe, having worked as Physical Trainer and seeing what many clients were eating daily I would believe it. However I think its a little to difficult to see how the US is entirely to blame. I think it has more to do with Agricultural expenses (equipment, fuel, seed). They are rationing rice in our local stores which is funny because most people I speak to rarely eat the stuff. A Message for India .. the farmer in the US are suffering just as much. I can not tell you how many people I speak with on a daily basis that are shutting down there farms because they can afford to continue. There families may go hungry too.
Francoisehardly Francoisehardly 9 years
And if I'm using or even wasting 3,770 calories a day, then someone has been eating a lot of the food on my plate or throwing it away without me noticing.
Francoisehardly Francoisehardly 9 years
It wouldn't hurt at all for us to eat less here and to have less junk to eat, but it's not really going to magically made food appear elsewhere. If that was the case, I would have never over eaten in my life. In fact the mentality that we can't waste food because other people are starving just causes people here to over eat which doesn't help anyone here, there or anywhere else.
yesteryear yesteryear 9 years
hey is that joshie-poo, "Pizza Tits" from intervention in the picture? amazing episode.
Jillness Jillness 9 years
Americans have been gluttonous for years, and yet the food shortages that are happening now are a fairly recent thing. The price of food has sooooo much to do with other the cost of gas a tractor uses to make the corn, shipping around the world, etc. Also, the increase of populations in India and Asia are vastly increasing the demand for food. I do think it would be in our best interest to cut back and stop being so wasteful (hello Macaroni Grill, Cheesecake Factory, and Chinese resturants that give you pounds of rice!). However, I don't think you can say if America would eat better other people would have food.
jubex jubex 9 years
hypno you are soooo right....great comment
cageyme cageyme 9 years
This reminds me of all the times mothers say "Eat your peas. There are starving children in Africa/India/China." How many kids haven't sassed back, "Great. Give me an envelope and I will mail it to them." Sure Americans eat too much. I know I do. But to blame the global food shortage on the U.S. is pretty simplistic. There are many pieces to the puzzle, including an abundance of food that is held up or stolen by corrupt governments. Another part of the problem is the rise in wealth by countries such as India and China. As these countries become wealthier, they start to eat more meat because they can finally afford to. Cows and pigs require a lot of feed (corn, grains) that could be going to feed people. Then there's the diversion of corn to produce ethanol. I could go on and on. As you can tell, I think about food too much. :pepino:
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 9 years
Is it true that if we eat less, the food will magically make its way to hungrier countries? I can see that reduced demand would reduce costs I guess. I honestly don't fully understand all the factors that are leading to the food crisis so I can't say whether we're to blame or not. The attitude that people go after us solely because we're the "top dog" is a bit short sighted, isn't it? I'm not afraid to admit we can do things better in the US. We can! For the most part, people I talk to are extremely concerned about the obesity trend. And, if it's true that it's contributing to food shortages elsewhere, even more reason for us to shape up.
JovianSkies JovianSkies 9 years
L-O-L :ROTFL: So, because America is doing well, India is suffering? Give me a break, or better yet, India should maybe point the finger to their own economy, rather than play the blame game.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
Sorry *does NOT sit well....
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
I believe they are making a point among many points. I'm sure that who ever issued the statement is well aware that there are a few contributing factors to any food shortage. However being 5-6% of the world’s population and consuming 25% of its resources we need to understand that this lopsided reality is the major factor that does sit well with the rest of the world who as human beings are just as entitled to natural resources as we are. As for liposuction it is clearly an enabling remedy to the problem. I found it very telling about capitalism when President Bush said "about India’s growing middle class and food prices. He said, “when you start getting wealth, you start demanding better nutrition and better food, and so demand is high, and that causes the price to go up.” This goes back to my point that capitalism needs poverty to survive. It needs the back of a third world to stand on. The planet simply can not support more than a few capitalistic successful societies it is physically and economically impossible. I am willing to say that within my life time capitalism will change dramatically not because we want it to but because we'll need it to and the U.S. will be dragged kicking and screaming all through the change.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
Hey I am all for smaller portions! What I don't like is smaller portions but still the same price, thats just a rip off! Maybe we're not gluttons, just cheapos!
jennifer76 jennifer76 9 years
Twenty years ago when American portions and waistlines were smaller, did everybody in the world have enough to eat? Back before America even existed there were people starving in parts of the world. I'm not sure how they could publish this and hope to maintain any credibility. That said, I do think many Americans would be well served to take a look at their general consumption habits - food and otherwise - and make healthier choices.
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