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Losing weight to help save the planet?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
This actually makes a lot of sense, but generally hasn't played a role in discussions of the future of the planet.

Global weight gain more damaging than rising numbers
Quote:
Researchers say that increasing levels of fatness around the world could have the same impact on global resources as an extra billion people.

Using World Health Organization data from 2005, the scientists worked out that the average global body weight was 62kg (137lb). But there were huge regional differences. In North America, the average was 80.7kg (178lb), while in Asia it was 57.7kg (127lb) .


While Asia accounts for 61% of the global population, it only accounts for 13% of the weight of the world due to obesity.

One of the authors of the paper, Prof Ian Roberts, explained the thinking behind the calculation.

"When people think about environmental sustainability, they immediately focus on population. Actually, when it comes down to it - it's not how many mouths there are to feed, it's how much flesh there is on the planet."
...
"If every country in the world had the same level of fatness that we see in the USA, in weight terms that would be like an extra billion people of world average body mass," he explained.

This is interesting, too, because it implies that changes in (sub)urban planning, such as more public transport and places of employment, stores, etc., in closer proximity to dwellings, would obviate the necessity of driving everywhere and thus being so sedentary. When I first moved to Europe 30 years ago, people in general were much thinner than Americans. At the time, very few families had second (or third) cars, and small stores within walking distance were the norm. People walked or cycled a lot. In the meantime, Europe has also adopted the "car culture" and American-style suburbs (and more fast food), and there's a visible correlation between increased car ownership and higher weight.
Quote:
But other countries in the top 10 most weighty are more of a surprise, and include Kuwait, Croatia, Qatar and Egypt.

Prof Roberts says that the high number of Arab countries is due to the impact of the automobile.

"One of the most important determinants of average body mass index is motor vehicle gas consumption per capita. So, it is no surprise to see many of the Arab countries in the list - people eat but they move very little because they drive everywhere."
post #2 of 7

A sedentary lifestyle is certainly one of the big contributors to obesity as is eating processed foods. I know in the United States areas in Colorado always rank low for obesity which is due to the active outdoors lifestyle. I know just in the area where I live I see a lot more obese kids around schools in poorer areas which I think is primarily due to excessive consumption of cheap processed food. In the United States there are very poor areas that have been designated nutritional deserts because there are no supermarkets only fast food places and convenience stores.

post #3 of 7

There's actually been a study ongoing for years on members of the same tribe, some of whom live on the US side of the border and the others of whom live on the Mexico side.  Genetically they are the same people, but those living in Mexico are in general like most of us are known for being:  slim, healthy, and strong, while a huge (seriously) proportion of the US folks are diabetic, obese, on dialysis, etc.  The difference?  The US-living people mostly drive, are sedentary, and eat US junk food, while the people in Mexico walk a lot, do a lot of physical work, and eat a largely vegetarian/vegan diet of indigenous plant foods.  It makes sense and can be extrapolated to any population where some live a traditional lifestyle and others have adopted the western lifestyle.  

 

One of my favorite maxims:  "LIVE SIMPLY SO THAT OTHERS MAY SIMPLY LIVE".  agree.gif  (It also helps cats and other living beings!  Those who consume out of all proportion to their fair share, take resources from others, even if they don't go up to them and steal from them personally.)

post #4 of 7

There are lots of things that could be done to "save the planet."  Not eating too much isn't a bad idea, but just what are we willing to do?

 

It's been calculated that if everyone in the U.S. would paint their roofs white, we could stop global warming.  How about everyone running their tires at the recommended inflation plus a few pounds? 

 

The point is that if everyone would do these things, it would make a difference.  What are we willing to do to  get everyone to do anything?

 

By the way, another calculation says that if we eliminated all dogs and cats that are pets, it would also "save the planet."  Ready to  do your share?
 

post #5 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrblanche View Post

There are lots of things that could be done to "save the planet."  Not eating too much isn't a bad idea, but just what are we willing to do?

 

It's been calculated that if everyone in the U.S. would paint their roofs white, we could stop global warming.  How about everyone running their tires at the recommended inflation plus a few pounds? 

 

The point is that if everyone would do these things, it would make a difference.  What are we willing to do to  get everyone to do anything?

 

Well, that's almost impossible, but don't you think that if a lot of people made the effort to do some of these things, it would make a difference?

 

 

 

Quote:
By the way, another calculation says that if we eliminated all dogs and cats that are pets, it would also "save the planet."  Ready to  do your share?

Well, now you're just talking crazy, man!!! 30.gif

post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrblanche View Post


By the way, another calculation says that if we eliminated all dogs and cats that are pets, it would also "save the planet."  Ready to  do your share?
I've read that, too, but it's not at all simple to calculate how much a pet adds to or subtracts from one's ecological footprint. Suppose a "party animal" becomes a "homebody" because of the addition of a pet? Just think of the fuel saved by not leaving one's home as often in the evening or on weekends, not requiring much in the way of dressy clothes (think water, pesticides, electricity to power machinery, transport, etc.), not consuming imported liquor or foodstuffs, and so on. You might be able to forgo a fitness center (driving your car there, investing in the "proper" clothing) because you get plenty of exercise out running or biking with your dog.

Should people just not bother trying to check their consumption in some ways because not everyone is doing anything they possibly can?



Should governments intervene and limit people's free choice of what they eat and drink? Health reasons/medical costs are cited most frequently, but environmental protection does provide another argument for restrictions.

Big-soda ban is just a start to conquering obesity
Quote:
Doctors treating the casualties of the global obesity epidemic say an unpopular proposal to limit soda portions in New York City should be just the beginning of stricter regulation of unhealthy foods.

Public opinion polls show a majority of Americans oppose New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to limit single servings of sugary drinks to 16 ounces (0.45 kilograms) at restaurants and other public venues.
...
Denmark imposed a tax last year on foods containing more than 2.3 per cent saturated fats — lifting the costs of butter by 30 per cent and a bag of chips by 8 per cent. A year earlier, the country had raised excise taxes on chocolate, ice cream, sugary drinks and candy by 25 per cent.

In 2011, Hungary started taxing prepackaged foods high in sugar, salt or caffeine — including carbonated sugary drinks, cookies, jams and instant soups. Finland introduced a tax the same year on sweets, chocolates and ice cream, and raised its existing excise tax on soft drinks.

Belgium, Ireland, Romania, Italy and the United Kingdom have considered similar measures as obesity rates among their citizens catch up to the United States.

Cambridge, Mass., mayor considers large soda ban
Soda Ban In LA: Councilman Proposes Limiting Access To Soda In Parks & Libraries
post #7 of 7

That last calculation is a bad one, and I'd invite those who dreamed that brilliant idea up to do what would REALLY count and downsize the burgeoning, overconsuming HUMAN population.  Cats certainly aren't hurting this planet! 

 

As for the white roofs, mine's snowy (and an added personal bonus is that we stay cooler during the hot So. Cali. summers!  I rarely use my HVAC system, which is SO expensive to run.)

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