Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Study warning on population fatness

Increasing population fatness could have the same implications for world food energy demands as an extra one billion people, researchers claim

The overweight population is threatening future food security, scientists have warned.

Increasing population fatness could have the same implications for world food energy demands as an extra one billion people, researchers claimed after examining the average weight of adults across the globe.

Scientists from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) said that tackling population weight is crucial for food security and ecological sustainability.

The United Nations (UN) predicts that by 2050 there could be a further 2.3 billion people on the planet and that the ecological implications of the rising population numbers will be exacerbated by increases in average body mass, researchers said.

The world's adult population weighs 287 million tonnes, 15 million of which is due to being overweight and 3.5 million is due to obesity, according to the study, which is to be published in BMC Public Health.

The data, collected from the UN and the World Health Organisation, shows that while the average global weight per person is 62kg in 2005, Britons weighed 75kg. In the US, the average adult weighed 81kg.

Across Europe, the average weight was 70.8kg compared to just 57.7kg in Asia.

More than half of people living in Europe are overweight (55.6%) compared to only 24.2% of Asian people. Almost three-quarters of people living in north America were overweight.

Researchers predict that if all people had the same average body mass index (BMI) as Americans, the total human biomass would increase by 58 million tonnes.

The authors of the study said that the energy requirement of humans depends not only on numbers but average mass.

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