The effect of bigger human bodies on the future global calorie requirements

Autoři: Lutz Depenbusch aff001;  Stephan Klasen aff001
Působiště autorů: Faculty of Economics, University of Goettingen, Goettingen, Germany aff001;  World Vegetable Center - East and Southeast Asia Regional Office, Bangkhen, Bangkok, Thailand aff002
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 14(12)
Kategorie: Research Article


Existing studies show how population growth and rising incomes will cause a massive increase in the future global demand for food. We add to the literature by estimating the potential effect of increases in human weight, caused by rising BMI and height, on future calorie requirements. Instead of using a market based approach, the estimations are solely based on human energy requirements for maintenance of weight. We develop four different scenarios to show the effect of increases in human height and BMI. In a world where the weight per age-sex group would stay stable, we project calorie requirements to increases by 61.05 percent between 2010 and 2100. Increases in BMI and height could add another 18.73 percentage points to this. This additional increase amounts to more than the combined calorie requirements of India and Nigeria in 2010. These increases would particularly affect Sub-Saharan African countries, which will already face massively rising calorie requirements due to the high population growth. The stark regional differences call for policies that increase food access in currently economically weak regions. Such policies should shift consumption away from energy dense foods that promote overweight and obesity, to avoid the direct burden associated with these conditions and reduce the increases in required calories. Supplying insufficient calories would not solve the problem but cause malnutrition in populations with weak access to food. As malnutrition is not reducing but promoting rises in BMI levels, this might even aggravate the situation.

Klíčová slova:

Adults – Age groups – Body Mass Index – India – Meat – Mexican people – Nigeria – Population growth


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2019 Číslo 12
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