Global Obesity Weighs On Resource Requirements

| Mon Jun. 18, 2012 4:45 PM EDT

Getting fatter is just as bad for the environment as reproducing, according to new research published Monday by the scientific journal BMC Public Health. The journal's "The Weight of the Nations" study determined the ecological implications of increasing "population fatness," are similar to those of population growth.

According to the study, obesity in the global population could have the same implications for food energy demands as an extra 500 million people living on the planet. Simply looking at population growth to estimate resource consumption is no longer sufficient, the researchers argue. They determined that the human race is collectively 17 million tons (15 million metric tons) overweight. As Live Science noted, that tonnage is equivalent to about 170 military aircraft carriers. The extra stress on resources stems from the greater energy that is required to move a heavier body—i.e., it's because fat people need more food.

Currently, more than one billion adults are overweight, and North America is responsible for a large portion of the problem. "Population increases in the USA will carry more weight than would be implied by numbers alone," the researchers wrote. Asia, for example, has 61 percent of the world population and only 13 percent of the extra weight. But North America has 34 percent of the excess weight but only 6 percent of the world population. That's a problem.