Food

Published on June 18th, 2012 | by James Ayre

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Obesity Is A Major Environmental Threat, Study Says

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June 18th, 2012 by

 
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The world population is now approaching 8 billion, all of whom need to eat. However, how much someone eats varies of course, depending to a large degree on mass. New research just published in the journal BMC Public Health “has estimated the total mass of the human population, defined its distribution by region, and the proportion of this biomass due to the overweight and obesity.”

Up to half of all the food an individual eats is used for physical activity, increased mass means an individual needs increased calories in order to move the heavier body around. Even at rest, larger bodies use more energy.

The research was done by using data from the World Health Organization and the United Nations. The researchers estimated that the adult human population weighs around 287 million tons, 15 million tons of which is people being overweight, and 3.5 million tons are due to obesity.

“While the average body mass globally was 62kg, North America, which has the highest body mass of any continent, with an average body mass of 80.7kg. North America has only 6% of the world’s population but 34% of the world’s biomass mass due to obesity. In contrast Asia has 61% of the world’s population but only 13% of the world’s biomass due to obesity.”

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If every country had the same BMI as the USA, the total human biomass would increase by 58 million tons, the equivalent of adding 935 million people of the world’s average body mass.

Explaining what this means, study co-author Sarah Walpole said, “Our results emphasize the importance of looking at biomass rather than just population numbers when considering the ecological impact of a species, especially humans.”

The study was based on a 2005 report, so it actually considerably underestimates obesity, as obesity has been on the rise rapidly in the last seven years.

The population of the world is estimated to reach 8.9 billion people by 2050.

Prof Ian Roberts, continued, “Everyone accepts that population growth threatens global environmental sustainability – our study shows that population fatness is also a major threat. Unless we tackle both population and fatness — our chances are slim.”

Source: BioMed Central
Image Credits: Overweight and Overpopulation via Shutterstock

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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.



  • http://www.humanbodysize.com Thomas Samaras

    Professor Roberts and his associates are correct based on my 37 years of research on how increasing height and body weight are harmful to our health, longevity and survival as a race. My findings are documented in 40 peer-reviewed papers and seven books. See Human Body Size and the Laws of Scaling: Physiological, Performance, Growth, Longevity, and Ecological Ramifications, Nova Science Publishers, NY, 2007. The increase in human size has a major impact on our food, water and energy needs. It also consumes more natural resources and promotes water, land and air pollution. For a list of papers on the subject, see http://www.humanbodysize.com

    A recent paper, A New Study Of Sardinian Men Finds Height Is A Factor In Longevity” was published last month in the journal, Biodemography and Social Biology. The findings in this paper support 12 longevity and 20 mortality studies that previously found that increased height and weight promote chronic disease and reduce longevity.

  • Don Knudson

    Yes, we do eat a lot of garbage and create a lot of garbage in our American Way of eating. The “power Elete” are the one’s who’ve been desiging our food with enhanced flavors so we can eat more and grow fat. And apparently many of us have achieved this goal.

    Advertising is powerful and produces what those promoting their food products desire, more sales. If it didn’t, they wouldn’t advertise.

    So I propose that we turn off our television sets which are just advertising machines we’ve been tricked into purchasing and the buying cable or satalite access so we can watch comercials. Just think about that! We’re dumb and dumber.

    I’ve begun to slowly lose some weight and to stoped so much TV watching. Next thing will be reducing time reading stuff like this on the computer.

    By the way, I’m also looking for a place where I can donate some extra fat. So far all I get as an answer when asking about this is, “Fat chance you’ll find any takers.” So I guess I’ll just keep blubbering away. And don’t try sell me some girdle that will melt the pounds away.

  • http://www.myspace.com/vortexresister113 SSandersMA

    What garbage! How can anyone with any intelligence buy into this! As a sociologist for years I have been saying that the power-elite have scapegoated obesity for every conceivable ill to distract us from how they plunder and rob the rest of us. Compare the ecological footprint of one fat poor person to one mansion dwelling, jet setting rich person! There is no comparison. Compare the impact of ALL fat people to the impact of the reckless policies of the military industrial complex or the oil companies. The WHO is in the back pocket of special interests. There is clearly an agenda: more gov interference in our lives, more peddling of worthless and dangerous diet products on the ever gullible public, (and even vaccines) and of course, turning the public against fat people so the rich will never have to account for all the harm they have done. Don’t fall for it folks!

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