Fat humans “threaten the environment”

If the world’s population keeps getting fatter it could have a serious impact on the environment and the planet’s resources. That’s the warning from researchers who say the energy needs […]

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By Vicky Ellis

If the world’s population keeps getting fatter it could have a serious impact on the environment and the planet’s resources. That’s the warning from researchers who say the energy needs of people rise as their waistbands expand.

A new report, called ‘The weight of nations: an estimation of adult human biomass’, warns increasing population fatness could have the same implications for world food energy demands as an extra half a billion people living on the earth.

Using data from the United Nations and World Health Organization, the researchers estimated the adult human population weighs in at 287 million tonnes, 15 million of which is due to the overweight and 3.5 million due to obesity.

Professor Ian Roberts, who led the research at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicines (LSHTM) said: “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.”

With the world’s population at more than seven billion and set to rise, policy makers need to take increasing mass into account, suggests the report, which was published in BioMed Central’s open access journal BMC Public Health this week.