Global Health: Obesity is more damaging to the environment than rising global population.
Obesity is driving climate change and destruction of the environment and tackling it must be a priority for policy makers, according to a report published by the London School of Health and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).
The LSHTM states that excessive food consumption can have as big an impact on energy demand as the size of a population. They suggest that this is because it takes more energy to move a heavy body, so the heavier a population gets the more it will consume.
World Health Organization data from 2005 indicates that the world’s overall adult human population weighs 287 million tonnes, 15 million of which is due to the overweight and 3.5 million due to obesity.
North America, though making up just 6% of the global population, constitute more than a third of worldwide obesity. According to the data from 2005, average weight in North America is 80.7kg, whereas the global average weight is only 62kg. The U.S therefore ranks as the heaviest nation in the world.
Prof. Ian Roberts, an author of the report said: “If every country in the world had the same level of fatness that we see in the USA, in weight terms that would be like an extra billion people of world average body mass.”
The top ten heaviest nations also include Kuwait, Croatia, Qatar and Egypt. The U.K is the 18th heaviest nation, weighing 13.8kg more than the rest of the world, with an average adult body mass of 75.8kg.
On the other end of the scale are countries like Eritrea, Vietnam, Ethiopia and Bhutan. Prof. Roberts comments that Japan could be a model for other countries, having an average BMI (Body Mass Index) of 22 compared to the USA’s BMI of 28.7. Though Asia constitutes 61% of the global population, they only contribute 13% of the world’s obesity.
Prof. Roberts suggests that according to the data from 2005, obesity goes hand in hand with the impact of automobiles. He recommends that making it easier to walk and cycle in cities is a key solution to our rich nations’ increasing weight.