HFR: Dr. Chopra, we have in America, in Western Countries, people dying from obesity- actually in America, 360,000 people die [every year] from obesity or related diseases. Then we have in other parts of the world, people dying from malnutrition, what is your stance on this?
Dr. Deepak Chopra: Yes, 95% of the world is malnourished- half from obesity and half from not getting enough food, it’s a very sad commentary on our civilization that we have this huge imbalance, nutritional imbalance. In America right now, more than 50% of the population is obese. It’s going to be such an epidemic- there’s data now from gallup that the GDP, hospital admissions, conflict in society, crime rate and social unrest, in the end correlates with only one thing—wellbeing. So this spells a very poor future right now for the United States. If that’s true that 50% plus [of the population] is obese then it’s related to every other possible epidemic you can think of. I think President Clinton is doing a great job right now, with his new initiative on wellbeing and health; in a couple of months he’s going to announce something very important and take a stand on obesity, he’s become a very good example himself recently, as you know, he’s lost a lot of weight and become a total vegetarian. I think you need a grassroots campaign for this [issue] in the United States.
HFR: Right now, India has the fastest growing population; they even say that in the next 15-20 years the population might even surpass that of China. I know that by 2020 you want to feed 5 million children, do you feel that percentage-wise that’s going to be enough with the growing population that India has and what is the solution for this?
Dr. Deepak Chopra: Remember that these kids are also getting an education, it’s not just they’re getting a meal but they are getting a good education. We were discussing this afternoon that we could create a co-program in perhaps Pakistan, Afghanistan, this is the best way to actually decrease the hostilities in neighboring countries. The best way to get rid of an enemy is to improve their capacity for well-being.
HFR: The Dalai Lama thinks that we should decrease the population of the planet right now because we don’t have enough resources to feed all the people. What is your stance on this?
Dr. Deepak Chopra: Of course we should, but I think you don’t influence these things, they happen when there’s a critical mass of people shifting in consciousness. So this is converstation that we need to have. Now that we have social networks- what are social networks?- they are the extensions of our mind, so the social networks are literally creating a planetary brain. The more we have these kinds of conversations- we should be using twitter, facebook, and google+ and youtube to create this conversation there because it should be part of our connected dialogue, not just restricted to organizations.
HFR: Dr. Chopra, as a leader of health in the world, and I am a big fan, what is the solution for global health? I know that you prefer more natural medicine versus western medicine- what is the perfect formula from the standpoint of great Deepak Chopra?
Dr. Deepak Chopra: About three years ago, I hired a science writer who used to write for major journalism magazines and I said “I want you to look at over 100 diseases – common diseases- and give me the information”. If you had this information, you would close down over 90% of medical schools in the United States- I’m being honest! Almost all diseases, with the exception of about 5-6% of illnesses that are due to genetic mutations, which you can’t do anything about, 90% of our genes are plastic, which means they respond to lifestyle. There is a whole bunch of data now, on social well-being, community well-being, physical well-being, emotional well-being, career well-being, and financial well-being, all being inextricably woven into each other. Physical well-being involves things like sleep- more than half the American population doesn’t get adequate sleep. [Physical well-being also] involves stress-management, nutrition, exercise, and in my view, meditation and yoga- although we need more research on it, but it’s happening. There was a recent paper in the American Journal of Cardiology that [states that] the practice of pranayam and yoga is more effective in congestive heart failure than all the drugs, can you believe that? Now there’s data that [there are] 500 genes that influence things like inflammation, coronary artery disease, auto-immune illnesses. The activity of [these] 500 genes can be reversed- so you turn on the good genes and turn off the bad genes within 4 months of changes in lifestyle. But then you have to link this to social well-being, community well-being, career well-being, it’s a little complicated.