Asia has 61 per cent of the world's population but only 13 per cent of the world's weight. In contrast, Americans make up only five per cent of the world's population but account for a third of the world's weight due to obesity, according to a recently published research paper.
The researchers calculated the average global body weight at 137 pounds, but in North America the average was 178 pounds, while in Asia it was 57.7kg (127lb). In their report, the researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine worked out the weight of the global population at 287 million tonnes. They estimate that 15 million tons of this mass is due to people being overweight, and 3.5 million tons due to obesity.
The researchers found that Americans and Arabs are among the heaviest while Asians and sub-Saharan Africans are the lightest in weight. It takes only 12.2 Americans to add up to a ton of weight while it takes 20.2 Bangladeshis to equal a ton of weight. The top ten heaviest include US (12.2) , Kuwait (12.19), Croatia (13.1), Qatar (13.0), Egypt (13.5), UAE (13.2), Trinidad & Tobago (13.8), Argentina (13.8), Greece (13.3) and Bahrain (13.6). The lightest include North Korea (19.0), Cambodia (17.9), Burundi (18.5), Nepal (19.8), Congo (18.7), Bangladesh (20.2), Sri Lanka (19.8), Ethiopia (18.9), Vietnam (19.7) and Eritrea (19.2). Indians and Pakistanis do not show up in either of the two groups.
average BMI (Body Mass Index), Pakistanis and Chinese are at 23, Indians 21 and Bangladeshis 20.5, all within normal range of 18.5 to 24.9. The average values of BMI for Europe, Middle East and North and South America are much higher.
One of the authors of the paper, Professor Ian Roberts, told the BBC: "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." "If every country in the world had the same level of fatness that we see in the USA, in weight terms that would be like an extra billion people of world average body mass," he added.
|Source: Wall Street Journal|
Americans are beginning to recognize and respond to the obesity epidemic by promoting healthier alternatives to fattening fast foods in school lunches and by encouraging greater physical activity. Unfortunately, Asians are moving in the opposite direction. Recent launch of Fatburger chain of restaurants in Pakistan is just one symptom of the rapid growth of American sugared drinks and fast food in Asian nations.
Given the fact that South Asians are known to be genetically predisposed to obesity-related diseases like diabetes and heart diseases, the growth of American fast food in Asia could spell disaster. It's time for the local health officials to start tackling obesity before it becomes an epidemic further straining the already inadequate and overburdened health care systems in India and Pakistan.
Here's a video of a recent TV discussion on population:
India's Rising Population & Depleting Resources
Music Drives Coke Sales in Pakistan
FMCG Consumption Boom in Pakistan
Disease Burdens in India and Pakistan
Health Risks Rising- Bunge in Pakistan