New World Syndrome

The New World Syndrome is a misnomer and should have been called Western Diet Syndrome. The New World Syndrome is linked to a change from a traditional diet and exercise to a Western diet (i.e. junk food) and a sedentary lifestyle.
The traditional occupations of indigenous people – such as fishing, farming and hunting – tended to involve constant activity, whereas modern office jobs do not. The introduction of modern transportation such as automobiles also decreased physical exertion.

Meanwhile, cheap Western foods which are rich in fat, salt, sugar, and refined starches are also imported into countries. The amount of carbohydrates in diets increases[1]

The results of the introduction of these Western diets and lack of exercise are devastating. This syndrome is especially common in the indigenous peoples of the 'New World' (i.e. of the Americas). Imported American foodstuffs and carbonated soft drinks are cheaper than their traditional foods. Other examples of this syndrome are the inhabitants of several island states in the Pacific[2] and the Australian aboriginals[3].

The New World Syndrome is characterized by obesity, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and a shortened life span.

[1] Bradshaw et al: Emergence of diabetes mellitus in a Mexican-origin population: a multiple cause-of-death analysis in Social Biology – 1995
[2] Ellen Ruppel Shell: New world Syndrome in The Atlantic – 2001. See here.
[3] Gracey: New World syndrome in Western Australian aborigines in Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology – 1995

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