Poverty – What Dieters Can Do

Today is Blog Action Day 2008, and The Office Diet is taking part. The theme is “poverty”.

How much do you spend on groceries, in the average week? Here in the UK, the average couple easily spends £50 ($90) per week … and that’s not counting meals out, Starbucks, takeaways, alcoholic drinks.

Even if you think you’re hard up, you’re spending a lot on food compared with billions of people in the world. 80% of the world’s population live on less than $10 a day. And 10% live on less than $1.

Feeling rich now?

Many people don’t have the luxury of being overweight

I spent a week in Madagascar in summer 2007, seeing the work of Mission Aviation Fellowship out in the field. (It was a family trip to witness first-hand the work of a charity which my parents have been supporting for many years.)

One thing which struck me was that I never saw a fat child or adult. Not a single one. I was relieved that none of the children we came across (even in very remote communities out in the bush, accessible by plane) looked seriously malnourished – but they were all thin.

Being overweight – consuming more food than your body needs – is a luxury. Sometimes, it seems like an unnecessary and even distasteful one in a world where millions of children go to bed hungry every day.

What can you do?

It’s so easy to throw our hands up in the air and say, “But what can we do?” Despite what your mother may have said, you know that the food on your plate can’t go to feed starving children in Africa.

But there are plenty of practical ways you can help. The ones which require least effort deliver least impact, but if you need to, start small and work your way up. I’ve tried to make all of these somewhat office-dieter related!

The Hunger Site – donate food by clicking (the site is sponsored by the advertisers whose banners you see after the click). What better use of those idle moments at work?

Donate to charity – choose a reputable charity that’s in alignment with your principles, and which works to alleviate poverty. Try giving up your daily latte, or taking lunch into work from home (it doesn’t have to be a boring sandwich), and donating the money you save to charity – you’ll be boosting your dieting success too!

Donate clothing to charity shops – I bet you’ve got good-quality clothes lurking in the wardrobe that you’re now too slim for (or clothes which you bought in a fit of overoptimism, and which you know you’ll never fit into!) I had a big clear out the other week and managed to take a huge bag of clothes to the local charity shop, all things that I’d not worn in months or even years.

Sponsored event –why not undertake a sponsored slim, sponsored run or similar, in order to raise money for charity? If you can get enough people on board to sponsor you, it could be a much greater sum than one you could donate single-handedly.

Help Make Poverty History – the campaign to Make Poverty History has been running since 2005, incorporating Drop the Debt and Trade Justice campaigns. Of course suffering should be alleviated by giving food aid – but we also need to tackle the deeper causes of famine and poverty.

With famines across the globe, in Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Latin America, North Korea and other countries, this is a time to focus on our over-consumption in the West, and on what we can do to help men, women and children around the world.


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