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Global warming

Obese People Create an Extra Billion Tons of CO2 Each Year, Warn Experts

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: global warming, health news, Natural News


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(NaturalNews) Editor's note: NaturalNews doesn't agree with all the conclusions reached by the scientists being covered in this article, but we thought it was important to bring you this story on one of the many ways in which climate change discussions might start targeting -- or even criminalizing -- individual eating behavior. Just yesterday, the world climate chief (Lord Stern) declared that in order to save the planet, everyone would have to stop eating meat. As a promoter of plant-emphasis in dietary habits, we here at NaturalNews believe there is a lot of validity to the idea that cattle ranching is extremely destructive to the environment, but we also believe that blaming obese people for climate change is a gross oversimplification of the real problems facing our global environment. Sure, food and environment are intertwined, but I think more blame rests with the Big Ag companies, junk food corporations, junk-food-pushing media giants and the utterly useless government health regulators who still won't require honest food labeling that might help consumers make better dietary choices at the grocery store.

Researchers are increasingly warning that the obesity epidemic is contributing to global warming, with potentially devastating consequences for people and habitats around the world.

"Food production accounts for about one fifth of greenhouse gases," said researcher Phil Edwards, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. "We need to do a lot more to reverse the global trend towards fatness. It is a key factor in the battle to reduce carbon emissions and slow climate change."

According to Edwards' research, the average overweight person is responsible for an extra ton of carbon dioxide emissions a year, compared with a person of healthier weight. Based on World Health Organization estimates, this translates into an extra one billion tons per year.

The bulk of this extra contribution comes from the fossil fuels required to produce the food needed to sustain a larger person. Meat, in particular, is highly fossil fuel intensive. According to a 2007 United Nations report, animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, more than all forms of transportation combined.

"It is time we took account of the amount we are eating," Edwards said. "This is about over-consumption by the wealthy countries. And the world demand for meat is increasing to match that of Britain and [the United States]."

In addition, heavier people are significantly more likely to drive than thinner people.

"Moving about in a heavy body is like driving in a gas guzzler. It is ... much easier to get in your car and pick up a pint of milk than to take a walk," Edwards said.

An estimated 33 percent of men and 35 percent of women in the United States are obese, defined as having a body mass index higher than 30. Worldwide, 400 million people are obese.

Sources for this story include: www.thesun.co.uk.

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