Recently, Pulitzer prize-winning author Michael Moss visited Saudi Arabia. He was not there to report on the arms race or war. Rather, he was there to attend a medical summit. He was invited to present two talks about his recent book, Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, and to talk about the food reporting he’s been doing since his book was published in 2013. (This reporting includes hard-hitting pieces about animal welfare at a U.S. government research laboratory).
This piece is about salt, sugar and fat in Saudi Arabia – and a growing health crisis that is causing people to speak out against the government.
“…I’ve been reporting on another war – one that tends to get overshadowed by violent conflict, but also one where human lives are still very much at stake. What brought me to Saudi Arabia now was another GDP stat. Where the kingdom’s guns ranked third globally, its spending on health care ranked sixty-seventh in a 2010 survey by the W.H.O. And that meager attention to public health, along with an influx of American-style processed foods and the kingdom’s own cultural ways, has predictably created a looming health crisis for the kingdom. As it is in so much of the world, obesity and diabetes are surging.”
Moss reports that the summit was full of surprises.
Alarmed by the health consequences of junk food and overeating, the meeting organizers were far from timid about criticizing their government. Rather, they spoke as openly and forcefully on these topics as anyone I’ve heard. Said one of the organizers to kick things off: “We have to work to convince the decision makers to realize that what they are doing is killing us.”