Azara Blog: Surprise, obese people eat more food

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Date published: 2008/05/16

The BBC says:

Obese people are contributing to the world food crisis and climate change, experts say.

The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine calculated the obese consume 18% more calories than average.

They are also responsible for using more fuel, which has an environmental impact and drives up food prices as transport and agriculture both use oil.

The result is that the poor struggle to afford food and greenhouse gas emissions rise, the Lancet reported.

Who would have thought it, eh? Obese people eat more food. Unfortunately this kind of trivial remark is also meaningless when it comes to the blame game that the authors are evidently playing. If you spend more on food, you spend less on other goods and services that also have an environmental impact. Further, the authors no doubt provide no evidence that if the people in the rich world ate less that the people of the poor world would suddenly be able to eat more. Food is not a zero sum game.

This attempt to blame obese people for every ill on the planet is just out and out obnoxious. So when are we going to get headlines that "people who buy more books are causing the Amazon jungle to be razed to create paper"? Or that "people who watch television are contributing to global poverty because every watt of power they use means that some poor person cannot use that electricity"? Or that "people who are thin are contributing to poor people going cold because thin people need heftier jumpers to stay warm, so less wool is left for poor people"? Etc. Well, one can easily imagine the same kind of academic middle class people who are so keen to condemn obese people would be happy to play the blame game in other, equally silly, ways.

Of course later in the article we find out another motive of the researchers is to promote the usual academic middle class anti-car propaganda:

Phil Edwards, who co-authored the article, said: "Urban transport policies that promote walking and cycling would reduce food prices by reducing the global demand for oil and promotion of a normal weight.

And they added: "Decreased car use would reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"Transport and food policy and the importance of sustainable transport must not be overlooked."

Why is this kind of junk research being funded?

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