2050: Over 4 Billion People Overweight?

Overweight Man Measuring His Belly with tape measure
Overweight Man Measuring His Belly with tape measure

2050: Over 4 Billion People Overweight?

The Earth’s human population has exploded from 2.5 billion 70 years ago to an astounding 7.8 billion today. At this rate, by 2050 it will reach almost 10 billion.

At that point, according to the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the pace of growth is expected to slow considerably. Eventually, the population will level off at around 11 billion.

Yesterday, however, Nature published a study revealing an even more shocking number: By 2050, 45 percent of the UN’s estimated 10-billion population are expected to be overweight.

That’s 4.5 billion people! And of those, the study says, 1.5 billion will be obese.

Yes, without giving it a second thought, nearly one-half the world (the wealthier half) will eat too much or waste food. Meanwhile, continuing incoming disparity will leave 500 million other people underweight.

They’ll the ones too poor to afford the food to fill their stomachs.

What’s responsible for these disturbing predictions? The Potsdam researchers offer this explanation:

“Dietary patterns are shifting world-wide, yet not synchronous, from scarce, plant-based diets with fresh and unprocessed foods towards affluent diets high in sugar, fat, and animal-source foods, featuring highly-processed food products.”

Unless our food systems change, this level of growth is unsustainable. We’ll exhaust our fresh water resources and face the incomprehensible consequences of having no forests to supply us with oxygen.

And think beyond the uncontrollable environmental impacts, to the unprecedented stress an increasingly overweight or obese humanity will place on our health care systems!

The study’s authors believe the choice between the perils of inaction and a possible solution is clear:

“Several studies showed that without a substantial shift from animal- to plant-based products and a strong reduction of food waste, the agricultural system cannot return into the sustainable ‘planetary boundaries’ that define a safe operating space for humanity.”

 The evidence keeps on building. We must go plant-based – for the planet, and for our health!

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