Thankfully the current generation of young people are far more aware of the environmental issues and willing to do something about it. They have taught their parents to recycle, use reusable grocery bags, to buy carbon credits (though controversial), etc, etc. However, this same young generation is the fattest in our history (and potentially the least fit).
Does being overweight really coincide with the principles of trying to keep the planet healthy?
I have wanted to write a piece about this issue for awhile but didn’t have a nice published journal arguing what I thought were various obvious points, but now one has come out.
In a study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology by Edward and Roberts (2009) argues that food production is one of the main contributors (20%) to greenhouse gas emissions (H/T to esciencenews). If you have a population of people in the developed nations that are overweight (ranging from 20-65+ % of the population) this would have a number of implications. It costs more to transport the heavier people but also they are eating more than someone of normal weight and hence use up a greater amount of the valuable and dwindling energy resources and a greater amount of food producing land. This is not exactly rocket science to realize this.
Being overweight is equivalent to deciding to drive around in a SUV (or any other gas guzzler).
If people slimmed down (via escience news):
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.
Really the comparison here was between a population of ‘lean’ with a mean body mass index (BMI) of 24.5 vs a more typical ‘developed’ country with a BMI of 29 (to give you a frame of reference normal weight is 18.5 -24.9, overweight is 25-29.9m and obese is 30+). The heavier population would consume 19% more food than the lean population.
I really don’t have to give you a bunch of numbers and facts I think all of you intuitively know that it only make sense that an overweight population consumes more energy and contributes a greater amount to environmental issues (including global warming).
I think the authors give a pretty clear statement in their discussion (GHG = global green house gases):
We argue that increased population adiposity, because of its contribution to climate change from additional food and transport GHG emissions, should be recognized as an environmental problem.
So if you care about the environment, be it you are young or old, then do your part and stay (or become) slim (meaning normal weight) - which will also contribute to your own health.
If you care about the planet’s health, then do something about it by taking care of your own health - by maintaining a healthy weight. Something for all of us to think about, but maybe this message has the best chance in taking hold in the current young generation who as a whole do care about the planet’s health.
Are you a gaz guzzler, a hybrid, an all electric, or even a highly efficient bicycle?