Suddenly they lost their export market for sugar. There were fuel shortages, and power cuts.
China gave them 1 million bicycles. People walked, farmers ploughed their fields the old-fashioned way.
Over a 5 year period, 1990 – 1995, cubans lost an average of 5 kilos in weight.
Deaths from diabetes began to fall in 1996 and remained low for 6 years (until the economy picked up again). Deaths from stroke and heart disease dropped dramatically from the same year.
The sad news is that by 2000 the prevalence of strokes, heart disease and diabetes was back at pre-crisis levels as the economy recovered.
Researchers writing in the British Medical Journal say the findings, although extrapolated from one country, are “a notable illustration of the potential health benefits of reversing the global obesity epidemic”
Walter Willett, professor of nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, says it’s well-known that changes in food supply such as the spread of fast-food outlets, combined with a reduction in physical activity and increased car use, leads to weight gain and the growth in diabetes and heart disease.
He went on to say “The findings add powerful evidence that a reduction in overweight and obesity would have major population-wide benefits”.
So cut out the burgers and chips and get up off the couch!