Current Obesity Reports

, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp 449–455 | Cite as

Global Changes in Food Supply and the Obesity Epidemic

  • Emilie H. Zobel
  • Tine W. Hansen
  • Peter Rossing
  • Bernt Johan von ScholtenEmail author
Economy and Environment (GJ Egger, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Economy and Environment


Purpose of Review

We explore how a global shift in the food system caused by global economic growth, increase in available food per capita and in food processing is a driver of the obesity epidemic.

Recent Findings

Economic development in most areas of the world has resulted in increased purchasing power and available per capita food. Supermarkets and a growing fast-food industry have transformed our dietary pattern. Ultra-processed food rich on sugars and saturated fat is now the major source of energy in most countries. The shift in food supply is considered a major driver of the obesity epidemic and the increasing prevalence of accompanying complications, such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. However, the global shift might also have direct effects on the increase in type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer, independently of overweight and obesity.


The shift in the food supply is a major driver of the obesity epidemic.


Obesity Food supply Ultra-processed food 



Steno Diabetes Center, where the authors are employed, receives part of its core funding from unrestricted grants from Novo Nordisk Foundation and Novo Nordisk, and is owned by Novo Nordisk. The authors also have private equity interest in Novo Nordisk.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Emilie H. Zobel, Tine W. Hansen, Peter Rossing and Bernt Johan von Scholten declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Emilie H. Zobel
    • 1
  • Tine W. Hansen
    • 1
  • Peter Rossing
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Bernt Johan von Scholten
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Steno Diabetes CenterGentofteDenmark
  2. 2.Department of Clinical MedicineUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark
  3. 3.HealthAarhus UniversityAarhusDenmark

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