THE world’s population is more than 18 million tonnes overweight, or the equivalent of an extra 300 million average-sized people, a study has estimated.
And if the world’s waistlines continue to grow at the same rate as the US it could place the same demands on resources as an extra half billion humans.
These were the findings of research by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, published in BMC Public Health, which warned a fat population could be as dangerous as a rapidly growing one.
Lead researcher Professor Ian Roberts said even at rest a heavier body burns more fuel, with the rapidly developing economies of China and India quickly catching up to the fattest nation on earth – the US.
“Everyone accepts that population growth threatens global environmental sustainability,” Prof Roberts said.
“Our study shows that population fatness is also a major threat. Unless we tackle both population and fatness our chances are slim.”
Using UN and World Health Organisation data, scientists estimated the adult human population as weighing in at 287 million tonnes, with 15 million of this coming from the overweight and 3.5 million from obesity.
With an average body mass of 80.7kg, the US accounted for just 6 per cent of the world’s population but a third of the obesity.
By comparison Asia accounted for 61 per cent of the world’s population, but only 13 per cent of its obesity.
The average body mass globally is 62kg.