It's all too obvious now that in many ways developed societies have lost their way. Climate change, economic crisis, huge inequality of which part is misery for some and fearful uncertainty for many more, many hundreds of millions going hungry while obesity is cutting lifespans in a growing number of cases - economies clearly did not, as Keynes and others thought after the Second World War they would, reach a state of sensible material sufficiency, then look to improve quality of life rather than quantity of stuff.
So where did it all go so horribly wrong? Ian Roberts (writing with Phil Edwards) in The Energy Glut: The Politics of Fatness in an Overheating World has at least part of the answer. He ties together the building of societies and economies around the needs of fossil-fuel powered transport with the rise in obesity and removal of almost all physical activity from many Western individuals' lives, and the reduction in community life, combined with a huge toll or death and injury on developing, and developed, countries' roads, and the rise of the supermarkets and foods rich in calories and low in nutrients. He's very firm that obesity is not an individual problem - simply a reflection of the fact that all of us have got steadily fatter, which has of course pushed the upper end of the distribution curve well into "obese".
So what to do? One clear action in the developed world is that we need to start to cut away at the social dominance of the supermarket (and for the sake of our farmers there are plenty of other reasons for doing this), and their car-demanding, car-encouraging and obesity-encouraging system.
The authors report that in the UK supermarkets account for 93% of food spending and (as of 2007 and growing fast) 41% of fuel sales. And more than three quarters of British households do their main food shopping by car. "Supermarkets sell energy, either as food or petrol. ... as people move less, all things being equal, they tend to eat less. .. we could think of supermarkets as simply the retail arm of the petro-nutritional complex. Supermarkets don't care how they make profits, whether by selling us food or petrol, but either way it makes us fat...[and] fat populations consume considerably more food than lean populations. It has been estimated that the amount of food energy consumed by a 'fat' population (average BMI 29) is around 20 per cent more than that consumed by a 'normal' weight population (average BMI 25). The heavier our bodies become, the harder and more unpleasant it is to move about in them and the more dependent we become on our cars."