Study analyses relationship between body size and global calorie demand
A rising Body Mass Index (BMI), which evaluates weight in relation to height, and an increasing body height is said to lead to a marked increase in global calorie requirements.
The amount of food needed to feed the world’s population in the future is considered to be of vital importance. To date, scientists are said to have only considered this question from the perspective of how much food people can afford to buy, how much food is healthy or what can be sustainably produced. But, researchers at the University of Göttingen have reportedly analysed how the actual quantity of food that people would like to eat is likely to change.
In most countries, average body height and body size is increasing, the researchers pointed out, and more needs to be eaten to maintain the higher weight. The development economist Professor Stephan Klasen, from the Faculty of Business and Economics at the University of Göttingen and doctoral student, Lutz Depenbusch, have allegedly designed a scenario to investigate how calorie intake could develop between 2010 and 2100.
Earlier changes in the Netherlands and Mexico were used as a benchmark. “The developments in these countries are very pronounced,” said Depenbusch, “but they do represent a realistic scenario.” Even if both BMI and height were to remain constant, global calorie requirements would still increase by more than 60 percent by 2100 because of population growth, the researchers said.
With rising BMI, as observed in Mexico, and increasing height, as seen in the Netherlands, there would allegedly be a further increase of more than 18 percent. The researchers explained that the increase in global calorie requirements between 2010 and 2100 would be one third larger, reaching a total increase of nearly 80 percent.
If global food production does not meet this increased need, the researchers stressed that this problem will not be controlled by a corresponding decrease in BMI. They said that while richer people will be able to maintain their eating habits, the poor would suffer greatly from higher prices due to increased demand. “This would lead to increased consumption of cheap food, often rich in calories but poor in nutrients,” Depenbusch added. “And as a result, body weight among the poor would continue to rise alongside malnutrition and poorer health outcomes.”