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Americans Doing Their Obese Best to Keep the World Population 17 Million Tons Overweight

New Study Says World Population is Overweight by 17 Million Pounds
Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

Many of us could stand to lose a few pounds, but the total body mass of all the overweight people in the world is truly surprising, according to a new report.

Perhaps, not surprisingly, the US accounts for a disproportionate number of this extra poundage.

Researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical medicine found that the total weight of the world’s seven billion people is 316 million tons, which is 17 million more tons than it should be, due to obesity. What’s more, this extra weight has the same impact on world resources as half a billion additional people.

Although it makes up only five percent of the world’s population, the US has the dubious distinction of accounting for almost a third of the world’s obesity weight. In stark contrast, Asia, which comprises 61 percent of the world’s population, comes in at only 13 percent.

And the news gets even worse for Americans. Researchers said the average global body weight is 137 pounds, but US residents tip the scales at 178 pounds.

“When people think about environmental sustainability, they immediately focus on population. Actually, when it comes down to it, it’s not how many mouths there are to feed, it is how much flesh there is on the planet,” said professor Ian Roberts, one of the report’s authors.

And while Roberts admits that overpopulation is an issue, obesity is taxing the planet’s resources as well. “We do not move our bodies so much but we are biologically programmed to eat,” he said. “We often point the finger at poor women in Africa having too many babies. But we’ve also got to think of this fatness thing; it’s part of the same issue of exceeding our planetary limits.”


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