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Article posted May 22 2008, 3:02 AM Category: Health Source: The Telegraph Print

Fat people blamed for global warming

By Patrick Sawer

As if they didn’t already have enough problems on their hands fat people are now being blamed for global warming.

British scientists say they use up more fuel to transport them around and the amount of food they eat requires more energy to produce than that consumed by those on smaller diets.

According to a team at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine this adds to food shortages and higher energy prices.

Researchers Phil Edwards said: “We are all becoming heavier and it is a global responsibility. Obesity is a key part of the big picture."

Mr Edwards and his colleague Ian Roberts argue that because thinner people eat less and are more likely to walk than rely on cars, a slimmer population would lower demand for fuel and food.

Because 20 percent of greenhouse gas stems from agriculture any reduction in food consumption would help cut emissions.

Edwards and Roberts found that obese people need 1,680 daily calories to sustain normal energy and another 1,280 calories to maintain daily activities, 18 percent more than someone with a healthy body mass index.

At least 400 million adults worldwide are obese. The World Health Organization (WHO) projects by 2015, 2.3 billion adults will be overweight and more than 700 million will be obese.

In their model, the researchers estimate 40 percent of the global population is obese, with a body mass index of 30 or over.

The normal range is usually considered to be 18 to 25, with more than 25 considered overweight and above 30 obese.

"Promotion of a normal distribution of BMI would reduce the global demand for, and thus the price of, food," Edwards and Roberts wrote in the latest edition of The Lancet.

But some nutrition and obesity experts said the research ignores more important reasons for increased food production.

"We throw away far more food that the extra 460 calories per day they point out," said Dr. Tim Church, chairman in health wisdom at Louisiana State University.

"In other words, most of our food overproduction is due to waste, not overeating.

"It is estimated that one-fourth of the food produced in the U.S. goes to waste. Does having 50 extra pounds in a Chevy Tahoe really affect gas mileage? I do not think so."

Keith-Thomas Ayoob, paediatric nutritionist and associate professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, said: "Obese people have enough issues to deal with without being demonized for their impact on the environment. The truth is all people are an environmental burden.“

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