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Tommorov's population will be bigger, heavier and eat more

As the world's population reaches 9 billion people, it's important to take into account the fact that people are becoming bigger and need more calories than they once were. Credit: NTNU

Food demand is increasing, as people are getting bigger. To feed a population of 9 billion in 2050 will require much more food than previously estimated.

"It's hard to feed 9 billion people in 2050 than today," says Gibran Vita, Ph.D. Applicant for the industrial ecology program at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

According to WWF, the biggest environmental problem in the world is the destruction of wildlife and plant habitats. A large part of the damage is related to the ever-increasing demands of the human population. On the other hand, Zero Hunger is the second goal of sustainable development in the United States, and its mission is to meet the world's growing food demand.

In a few years, the world's population could reach about 9 billion, compared to just over 7.6 billion.

But the average person in the future will require more food than today. Some of the reasons are changes in eating habits, attitudes towards food waste, height and body weight and demographic changes.

People are changing

Professor Daniel B. Müller and his colleagues Felipe Vaśquez and Vita analyzed the changes in the 186-nation populations between 1975 and 2014. "We studied the effects of two phenomena: one of them is that people on average have become longer and heavier, and the average population is getting older," said Vita.

The first phenomenon contributes to the increase in food demand. The second opposes the first one.

The average adult in 2014 was 14 percent heavier, 1.3 percent higher, 6.2 percent older and needed 6.1 percent more energy than in 1975. Researchers think this trend will continue in most countries.

"The average adult adult consumed 2,465 kilocalories a day in 1975. In 2014, the average adult consumed 2,615 kilocalories," says Vita.

During this period, people's consumption increased worldwide by 129 percent. The population growth was 116 percent, while the weight and height increased by 15 percent. Elderly people need a little less food, but aging populations generate only two percent less consumption.

"An additional 13 percent meet the needs of 286 million people," Vásquez says.

This in turn meets the needs of Indonesian and Scandinavian food.

Significant differences

There are significant differences between countries. The weight gain per person ranged from 6 to 33 percent between 1975 and 2014, and rising energy demand ranged from 0.9 to 16 percent.

The average Tonga man weighs 93 kilograms. The average Vietnamese weighs 52 kilograms. This means that the inhabitants of the Tonga need 800 kilocalories or about four oven bowls each day.

Some countries are changing fast. The average weight of the Saint Lucia Caribbean region increased from 62 kilograms in 1975 to 82 kilograms 40 years later.

The lowest and highest changes have been detected in Asia and Africa, reflecting the differences between the continent's countries.

Previously not calculated

"Previous studies have not taken into account the increasing demand from larger individuals and the old community in calculating future population needs for future food needs," Vásquez said.

Most studies suggest that the average adult food needs in terms of time remain unchanged and quite similar in different countries. But this is not the case.

"These assumptions may be mistaken in assessing how much food we really need to meet the future demand," says Wash.

This study provides important information to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), a leader in the fight for food security for all.

Vásquez and Vita say that we need to look more than just the number of people in the area in order to understand their consumption mechanisms. This requires a multidisciplinary approach that takes into account both social and physiological factors.

The analysis of this study included bio-demography, biology and demographic hybrid. Researchers have adapted a dynamic system model that is often used in industrial ecology to explore resource stocks and flows.

Continue research:
World Food Day: Fish are gone, people are gone

More information:
Felipe Vásquez et al. Food security for aging and more vulnerable to the protection of the population Sustainability (2018). DOI: 10.3390 / su10103683

Norwegian University of Science and Technology

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