Keeping slim is good for the planet, say scientists

Maintaining a healthy body weight is good news for the environment, according to a study which appears today in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

Because food production is a major contributor to , a lean population, such as that seen in Vietnam, will consume almost 20% less food and produce fewer than a population in which 40% of people are obese (close to that seen in the USA today), according to Phil Edwards and Ian Roberts of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine's Department of Epidemiology and Population Health.

Transport-related emissions will also be lower because it takes less energy to transport slim people. The researchers estimate that a lean population of 1 billion people would emit 1.0 GT (1,000 million tonnes) less carbon dioxide equivalents per year compared with a fat one.

In nearly every country in the world, average body mass index (BMI) is rising. Between 1994 and 2004 the average male BMI in England increased from 26 to 27.3, with the average female BMI rising from 25.8 to 26.9 (about 3 kg - or half a stone - heavier). Humankind - be it Australian, Argentinian, Belgian or Canadian - is getting steadily fatter.

'When it comes to food consumption, moving about in a heavy body is like driving around in a gas guzzler', say the authors. 'The heavier our bodies become the harder and more unpleasant it is to move about in them and the more dependent we become on our cars. Staying slim is good for health and for the environment. We need to be doing a lot more to reverse the global trend towards fatness, and recognise it as a key factor in the battle to reduce emissions and slow climate change', they conclude.

More information: Phil Edwards and Ian Roberts: Population adiposity and climate change. International Journal of Epidemiology 2009;1-5

Source: London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine


Explore further

Weight gain may be healthy when it comes to type 1 diabetes

Citation: Keeping slim is good for the planet, say scientists (2009, April 20) retrieved 11 November 2019 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2009-04-slim-good-planet-scientists.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments