Poor societies: Disease profile:
Pneumonia, Intestinal obstruction, Peptic ulcer, Digestive diseases, Nephritis, Pulmonary tuberculosis, Non-TB infectious diseases, Parasitic diseases, Rheumatic heart disease

Wealthy societies: Disease profile:
Colon cancer, Lung cancer, Breast cancer, Leukemia, Diabetes, Coronary disease, Brain cancer 0 – 14 yr, Stomach Cancer, Liver Cancer

In China, we came to discover the differences between diseases of nutritional extravagance and poverty when we decided to find out why various diseases were clustered in the ways that they were in various parts of the country. As indicated in the chart, two basic groupings emerged. Diseases of nutritional extravagance, including cancers, heart disease, and diabetes are typically found in Western countries. While diseases of poverty (mainly various communicable infectious diseases) are found where nutritional status is compromised due to poor economic conditions.

Although we discovered various possible causes for the diseases in each group, the most interesting factor was blood cholesterol. While high blood cholesterol was the primary factor found in the diseases of nutritional extravagance, it bore little or no relationship to the diseases of poverty. This proved to be an important observation. We found that even when blood cholesterol is already very low (80-l70 mg/dL in China ), if it begins to rise, the diseases associated with nutritional extravagance will also rise.

In sum, the dietary causes for increased blood cholesterol were associated with the addition of Western kinds of nutrients and foods (such as fat and animal-based foods) as well as the reduction of high fiber, plant-based foods. For obvious reasons, the diseases of nutritional extravagance in China tended to be more common in areas undergoing urbanization.