Globalisation makes us fat apparently

In this slow season over the holidays we have some alarming news. It is globalisation which is making us fat apparently:

Globalisation has been a health disaster, creating a generation of people who expend so little energy each day that they no longer need to eat the same amount of calories as their parents, a new study by the London School of Economics suggests.

An analysis of 30 years of data by the LSE has proven that the obesity crisis is largely driven by modern lifestyles, which have allowed people to become so inter-connected that they barely need to leave their desks or sofas to work, socialise or shop.

It means that traditional meals recommended by parents are now simply too much for a less-active generation.

Trade deals between countries have also caused food prices to tumble, creating virtually unlimited access to unrestricted calories for most people, while on-tap entertainment through television, smartphones and personal computers has replaced many traditional hobbies and activities.

We have been saying much the same thing for some time now. We expend less energy than previous generations and don't eat as much less than previous generations as we perhaps should do. Thus the obesity.

However, blaming this upon globalisation seems a little off. For as the actual paper itself says

However, the effect only becomes significant after we controlled for the reduction in food prices and the increasing percentage of active women in the labor force, which has a consistently positive and significant effect on obesity. When we decompose the globalization index on that of its components, economic components appear to be either not significant or exhibit negligible coefficients, while social globalization effects are robust. Similarly, when we in turn decompose the social globalization in its components, we find that the significant effect is driven by changes in personal contacts, and information flows.

We're all sending cat pictures to each other on Facebook instead of walking around the corner to see our friends.

This is not what we would really refer to as globalisation if we're honest. Technological advance, possibly, but globalisation not really.

In a nutshell, we find that social globalization—and more specifically changes in information flows and personal contact—stands out as a robust explanation for the expansion of the obese and overweight population and the rise of calorie consumption.

That really just is not what we would term globalisation.