Recent studies indicate that rising levels of obesity may become as damaging to the environment as an additional billion people on the planet. When considering the impact humans have on the world it’s not only numbers that count, but also the lifestyle of people. If we all keep eating more, producing more garbage and driving cars rather than walking, we will increase our carbon footprints even if the world’s population remains stagnant.
The US has the highest number of clinically obese people per capita in the world. The weight problem in the States is becoming an epidemic as the US population accounts for just 6% of the world, but accounts for over 33% of global obesity. This additional weight has a considerable effect on people’s lives and resources. Countries such as Mexico and the UK are not far behind, and the overweight percentage of their populations is constantly increasing. If countries such as China and India soon follow similar trends the outlook is indeed bleak for our energy reserves. Not only will we need more food and transportation, but we’ll have fewer healthy people available to provide the necessary services to sustain a fat planet.
Some people argue that wealthier countries will inevitably have a fatter population. However, Japan seems to be the exception to this rule, where the quality of life is high but the number of obese people is very low. Hot countries in the middle east show the opposite trend, where even poorer parts of the population are overweight, due to the fact that the hot climate encourages them to drive rather than walk.
So it seems that developing countries being responsible for environmental problems due to high birth rates is a fallacy. They might produce more children, but these won’t consume nearly as many resources as your average American at KFC.