We’ve explored obesity in many different forms during the course of this year
and if you’re a regular Handpicked reader (enter your email in the box on the
left and click on ‘subscribe’ to become one if you’re not already), you’ll by
now be well aware of a recurring theme in our nutrition posts. Energy. This
thread will doubtless also run through the imminent new CABI product
Environmental Impact
(plug, plug), where I hope the loose ends help the experts
tie the information in nice, concise and user-friendly packages as opposed to a
confused mess of knots.

Obesity is where I expect Nutrition and Food Sciences and
Environmental Impact will
overlap quite often. Their common issues of energy – supply, demand, usage and
wastage – were recently brought to my attention again in a paper published in
Ecological Economics
, after it had been loaded onto CAB Abstracts. Authors Axel
Michaelowa and Björn Dransfield, are economists as far as I can tell from their
very wordy company website (unless you’re actually looking for a ‘solution’ to
your ‘specific greenhouse gas market requirement’, I wouldn’t bother looking it
up). They point out that obesity ‘increases greenhouse gas emissions through
higher fuel needs for transportation of heavier people, lifecycle emissions from
additional food production and methane emissions from higher amounts of organic
waste.’ They report that CO2 emissions due to the manufacture of obesity
promoting foodstuffs increased by some 400 million tonnes in the years in
‘advanced developing countries’ between 1990 and 2005.’ 1% of this energy could
be saved by reducing the food waste associated with producing (and eating) all
this food. Michaelowa and Dransfield also calculate that a 5 kg reduction in the
average weight of the population could cut the CO2 emissions generated by
driving around by more than 10 million tonnes – just a fraction of the amount
emitted in creating the problem in the first place. It seems that making the
food that makes people fat is the problem.

I used to wonder whether further rises in the price of oil will be sufficient
to force people out of their cars in numbers that a concern for the environment
has failed to achieve. In that context, maybe increasing the price of energy
intensive, energy dense processed foods, either by economics (that price of oil
again) or politics (via taxation) would force people towards the locally
produced and healthier options. This option seems to be a hot topic of debate
among the agricultural economists right now, as new Handpicked…addition,
Janice, reported on Monday (EAAE
, September 8th). I think it’s more
complex than that. To say that high levels of obesity mean higher energy usage
in bringing obese people and fatty foods together in a supermarket environment
may be stating the obvious. To factor in behavioural factors like thinking (Intellectual activity blamed for
September 8th) biological factors (Wage war on obesity – not the
, July 1st) requires us to cast the net an
awful lot wider than a single discipline. Ecologists, nutritionists,
psychologists, food scientists, economists (to name but a few) and policymakers
are all discussing climate change and what to do about it, but crucially, they
aren’t often discussing it with each other.

Maybe CABI’s imminent Environmental Impact product will help succeed in one
element of solving some of the problems – bringing together the information
generated in the measuring and modelling of climate change from all the
disciplines involved.

1 Comment

  1. Summit on 4th January 2009 at 6:32 pm

    Obviously, I think your right
    Natural ways are the best to cure obesity and heavy weight. Actually health food is a complete science as I have noticed in few of my own patients as well natural food really works if taken in proper quantity and proper way.
    There is whole different way of cooking it and that just works perfect. Better than many medical sciences I would say.

Leave a Reply

Related News & Blogs

On Earth Day, we take a look at climate change and agriculture

Climate change poses a threat to the livelihoods of smallholder farmers, exacerbating existing risks like extreme weather and the migration of crop pests and diseases that threaten food security. Already, the climate crisis is accelerating biodiversity…

22 April 2024