That made me wonder about health issues and obesity in Gambia. It seems that problems with obesity are very much a concern in Gambia ("Obesity Amidst Poverty"). With growing urbanization and more people sending money home to their rural families, people are eating less healthful food and more high-fat processed oils. Obesity is one side of the coin in sub-Saharan Africa; the other side is starvation - too much of a bad thing or not enough of anything at all.
The obesity rates for women in Gambia are much, much higher than those for men - 36% versus 2% - because women are closer to food and its preparation and because heavier women are more valued by men.
Gambians face the same threats to their health as anyone else and for similar reasons - processed food, fast food, increase in labour-saving devices - and are getting fatter just as North Americans have done (and continue to do) having created and engaged with such changes earlier on.
Fat Africans and fat North Americans have much in common - too many calories, too little exercise, and too few nutrients in the food.
These issues are extremely complex - optimum weight, quality and availability of food, anorexia, body image. Throw in whole industries that want to "improve" women with their abundant product lines and become wildly successful by holding up ideals that no one can achieve.
But imagine not being bombarded with images of anorexic females as the cultural ideal and not having thousands of girls and women becoming anorexic in the process. Of course the flip side is that the body image I'd love to love brings with it multiple health concerns.
So, I stand corrected, but damn it was such a satisfying fiction.