October 14th, 2010
10:36 AM ET

TEDMED: What the world eats

You might not think that the Asmat, who live in the jungle of New Guinea, would eat the same things as the average American college student. But nowadays, you might find both with a package Ramen noodles in hand.

Photojournalist Peter Menzel has found this trend all over the world: Regardless of environment and culture, many societies are turning to the fatty, sugar-rich foods of the West. And that, he argues, is a problem: The homogenized diet is contributing to obesity and related health problems.

In his TEDMED talk, Menzel discusses how the island of Okinawa in Japan has one of the highest percentages of centenarians in the world. Children used to be taught to eat until they are 80 percent full, because of lag time in communication between stomach and brain, he said.

But those longevity rates are slipping as young people adopt a Western diet and a less active lifestyle, he said.

Check out Menzel's stunning photos of food worldwide, as well as everything from robotics to weather, here.

TEDMED is an annual event that brings together dozens of luminaries from a variety of fields to "demonstrate the intersection and connections between all things medical and health care related: from personal health to public health, devices to design and Hollywood to the hospital." TEDMED 2010 will take place from October 26 to 29 in San Diego, California.

Editor's note: Dr. Sanjay Gupta will be attending TEDMED in October and his coverage of the conference will be featured in "Sanjay Gupta, M.D."

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.