Study Finds that Obesity Leads to Resource Constraints

Obesity already is a public health concern and the recent study published in BMC Public Health, concludes that “Increasing population fatness could have the same implications for world food energy demands as an extra half a billion people living on the earth.”

The research team of the study used body mass indexes and overall population to calculate the overall weight of the nation. “Total biomass by age-sex group was estimated as the product of the number of people in the group and their average body mass.” When it comes to the most obese, and therefore the nation that uses up the most amount of food resources, the United States leads the pack.

Then they calculated the drain on natural resources  and compared them to Japan and the U.S. Japan is socioeconomically similar to the United States but has a national BMI which is on the opposite end of the spectrum to the United States.

They calculated that the average BMI in Japan in 2005 was 22.9, and if all countries had the same age-sex BMI distribution as Japan, the total biomass would fall by 14.6 million tons which is a 5 percent reduction in global biomass or the mass equivalent of 235 million people of world average body mass in 2005. Comparatively, the BMI in the U.S. in 2005 was 28.7.

It does make sense to equate overall biomass to consumption patterns, which is something that hasn’t been done before. Several studies have shown that people who are obese also produce children with the tendency to become obese, increasing the incidence of childhood obesity. Obese people also tend to consume larger quantities of food, especially meat and processed food – both of which puts a significant strain on natural resources. Obesity also tends to increase within inner city neighbourhoods where people have a poorer diet and no time for exercise. In addition to this, they require larger spaces which means that homes and cars will have to be a lot larger to accommodate them comfortably.

Fighting obesity not only takes lifestyle changes, it needs severe intervention by the government. Enforcing healthy eating habits is a matter of national priority. This is especially true when it comes to tackling the younger generation, and it can only be achieved through education and government support.

Photo Credit: colros/CC BY 2.0

Akhila is the Founding Director of GreenDen Consultancy which is dedicated to offering business analysis, reporting and marketing solutions powered by sustainability and social responsibility. Based in the US, Europe, and India, the GreenDen's consultants share the best practices and innovation from around the globe to achieve real results. She has previously written about CSR and ethical consumption for Justmeans and hopes to put a fresh spin on things for this column. As an IEMA certified CSR practitioner, she hopes to highlight a new way of doing business. She believes that consumers have the immense power to change 'business as usual' through their choices. She is a Graduate in Molecular Biology from the University of Glasgow, UK and in Environmental Management and Law. In her free-time she is a voracious reader and enjoys photography, yoga, travelling and the great outdoors. She can be contacted via Twitter @aksvi and also http://www.thegreenden.net