JOHNSON: Obesity ‘Epidemic’: It’s No Big, Fat Deal

A British medical journal announced a finding last month that might be the best news in the history of the world: Nearly one out of three people in the world is overweight.

Members of the media responded to this thrilling discovery by lamenting the globe’s growing waistline. Pundits rushed to condemn widespread access to inexpensive food. Everyone seemed so excited to attack obesity that no one noticed the report’s incredible story of human achievement and hope.

Throughout history, malnutrition and hunger-related health issues have killed more people than any other cause. Over the course of the past half-century, however, the development of high-yield, disease-resistant crops, modern irrigation methods, and synthetic fertilizers and pesticides combined with improved transportation systems and the explosion of market-based economies throughout the world have made food far more plentiful, affordable and available than ever before. As a result, the world produces enough food to feed every person living today.

Even those who can’t afford food commonly have access to several meals a day through devoted charities, generous individuals and public-assistance programs.

Now, when people die of malnutrition or starvation, it’s almost always a result of war, political unrest or failed government policies that mismanage distribution of crops or food.