Here is one more reason why obesity and overweight need to be tackled on a war footing. They put undue pressure on Earth's dwindling resources, say researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. This is because people's weight - and not just the population size - determines the energy requirements of the human race.
Using data from the United Nations and World Health Organization, the researchers, led by Professor Ian Roberts, computed a table of the heaviest and lightest nations. The table was based on theoretical Total Energy Expenditure calculated from FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) tables for adults in 2005.
Heaviest 10 nations
1. The United States
6. United Arab Emirates
7. Trinidad and Tobago
Lightest 10 nations
1. North Korea
5. Democ. Rep. of the Congo
7. Sri Lanka
The researchers estimated the weight of the adult human population was 287 million tonnes in 2005, out of which 15 million tonnes was due to being overweight and 3.5 million tonnes due to obesity.
While the average body mass globally was 62 kilograms, North America had an average body mass of 80.7 kilograms - the highest among all continents. While North America comprised only 6% of the world's population, it had 34% of the world's human biomass due to obesity. In contrast, Asia, which had 61% of the world's population, had only 13% of the world's biomass due to obesity.
If all countries had the same average body mass index or BMI (a measure of human body fat based on an individual's weight and height) as the US, the total human biomass would increase by 58 million tonnes, which is equivalent of an additional 935 million people of world average body mass.
An important determinant of the BMI is the motor vehicle gas consumption per capita. Hence, Arab countries like Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, UAE and Egypt make it to the list of heaviest nations.
The study concludes that increasing prevalence of obesity, if unchecked, could have the same implications for world energy requirements as an extra 473 million people. That means tackling population fatness could be critical to world food security and ecological sustainability. The world population, presently at around 7 billion, is projected to increase to 8.9 billion by 2050.
by RTT Staff Writer
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