Study: Obesity Worsens Carbon Emissions

Authored by Irina Slav via OilPrice.com,

The growing human population and an increasing average body size is interfering with attempts to arrest and reduce carbon emissions, a new study has suggested - with obesity the latest carbon emissions contributor to be uncovered.

According to the study, published in the journal of The Obesity Society, people with higher body mass produce more carbon dioxide, which is a product of metabolism for all oxygen-consuming living organisms.

“Also,” the authors of the research said, “maintenance of greater body weights requires more food and drinks to be produced and transported to the consumers. Similarly, transportation of heavier people is associated with increased consumption of fossil fuels.”

As a result, obesity was estimated to generate some 700 megatons of carbon dioxide annually, which is equal to about 1.6 percent of all anthropogenic carbon emissions.

"This study makes it clear that we pay a steep price for making it difficult to access care for obesity. Not only does obesity affect the health of the individuals who have it, untreated obesity might also contribute to environmental issues," said Ted Kyle, founder of health organization ConscienHealth, which focuses on tackling obesity as quoted by Eurekalert.

Incidentally, ConscientHealth recently carried a report on a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that warned obesity rates in the United States are rising. By the end of the 2020s, the research said, half of Americans would be obese, with severe obesity now seen in as much as 25 percent of people in the U.S.

The authors have made a point of noting, however, that their findings should not serve as a reason to stigmatize obese people. As another commentator on the study said, physical exercise also leads to higher carbon emissions—physical exertion increases the metabolic rate—but nobody is shaming actively exercising people.

Even so, obesity is a serious problem that needs, it seems, greater attention, and its effect on emissions could become additional motivation for both sufferers and researchers in this respect.

"Our analysis suggests that, in addition to beneficial effects on morbidity, mortality, and healthcare costs, managing obesity can favorably affect the environment as well," said Faidon Magkos, nutritional scientist at the University of Copenhagen and corresponding author of the study. "This has important implications for all those involved in the management of obesity."