50 per cent of Brazilians overweight, 17 per cent obese, but officials say no-one’s getting fatter

“Que bom que voce veio!” – “How nice that you came here!” – sinister Mcdonald’s slogan.

According to a 2014 report last week by the Brazil Ministry of Health’s Vigilância de Fatores de Risco e Proteção para Doenças Crônicas (“Monitoring Risk Factors and Protection against Chronic Diseases”) the obesity rate in Brazil has stopped rising. 

50 per cent of Brazilians are now classed as overweight, with 17 per cent of those considered obese. Eight years ago 42 per cent were overweight and 11 per cent were obese.

I can’t work out why Brazil’s Ministry of Health doesn’t think this represents an increase in obesity rates…

According to the report, teaching Brazilians to exercise more in their leisure-time and eat more fruit and vegetables has worked, with both rising in the past eight years. 23,000 Brazilians were polled across all state capitals.

23 per cent of Brazilians drink soft-drinks at least five times a week, and Coca-Cola Brasil sold 10.6 billion litres of its soda in Brazil in 2013, which works out at 53 litres of Coca-Cola for each Brazilian annually. 

The country also has over 1,100 Mcdonald’s outlets serving millions of burgers every year, despite the price of a Brazilian Big Mac being the fifth most expensive in the world, according to The Economist.

Brazilians are renowned for their refrigerantes, and from my own experience I know Brazilian friends that drink Coca-Cola with breakfast, lunch and dinner, not to mention sugary juices and snacks like Brigadeiros (made from leite condensado, or condensed milk, which Brazilians love here).

Warming up leite condensado in a pan to make Brigadeiros.
Warming up leite condensado in a pan to make Brigadeiros.

Brazilians are also some of the most sedentary people in the world, which could be attributed to the little free-time most working Brazilians have and the increasingly middle-class lifestyles that allow the purchase of TVs, cars and computers.

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