Tommorow population will be bigger, heavier and eat more

Given that the world's population reaches 9 billion people, it's important to keep in mind the fact that people are getting bigger and need more calories than they once were. Credit: NTNU

Food needs grow as people grow. Feeding a population of 9 billion in 2050 will require far more food than previously calculated.

"In 2050, it will be harder to deploy 9 billion people than it would be today," says Gibran Vita, Ph.D. candidate for the Industrial Ecology Program at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

According to WWF, the biggest environmental problem is the destruction of wildlife and plant habitats. A large part of the devastation is caused by the demands of the ever-growing human population. On the other hand, Zero Hunger is the second goal of sustainable US development, and its challenge is to meet the growing global demand for food.

The world's population could be about 9 billion in a few years, compared with just under $ 7.6 billion.

But the average person in the future will need more food than today. Changes in eating habits, attitudes to food waste, height and weight gain, and demographic gradients are some of the reasons.

People change

Professor Daniel B. Müller and colleagues Felipe Vasquez and Vita analyzed changes in 186 countries between 1975 and 2014. "We studied the effects of two phenomena, one of which was that people grew and grew on average, the average population is aging," Vita said.

The first phenomenon contributes to increased demand for food. The second is against previous ones.

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

"The average adult used 2465 kilocalor daily a day in 1975. In 2014, the average adult consumed 2615 kilocalories," says Vita.

Worldwide, human consumption grew by 129 percent during this time. Population growth was responsible for 116 percent, while increased weight and height accounted for 15 percent. Elderly people need a little less food, but the aging population results in only two percent less consumption.

"Another 13 percent corresponds to the needs of 286 million people," says Vasquez.

This corresponds approximately to the food needs of Indonesia and Scandinavia.

Main differences

There are considerable differences between countries. Mass increase per capita from 1975 to 2014 ranged from 6 to 33 percent and increased energy intensity ranged from 0.9 to 16 percent.

The average person in Tonga weighs 93 kilograms. The average Vietnamese man weighs 52 kilograms. This means that people in Tonga need more than 800 kcal each day – or about four bowls of oatmeal.

Some countries are changing rapidly. In St. Lucia in the Caribbean, the average weight increased from 62 kilograms in 1975 to 82 kilograms 40 years later.

The smallest and highest changes occur in Asia and Africa, reflecting the differences between the countries of these continents.

Not exhausted

"Previous studies have not taken into account the increased demands of larger individuals and older companies in calculating the future food needs of a growing population," Vaquequez said.

Most studies estimate that the average adult food needs remain constant over time and relatively similar among peoples. But it is not.

"These assumptions can lead to errors in assessing how much food we really need to meet future demand," says Vasquez.

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

You and Vita say we have to focus on more than just the number of people in the area to understand their consumption patterns. This requires a multidisciplinary approach that takes into account both social and physiological factors.

The analysis of this study included bio-demography, biological hybrid and demography. Researchers have adapted the model for dynamic systems that are often used in industrial ecology to study resources and resource flows.

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More information:
Felipe Vásquez et al., Food Safety for an Aging and Heavy Population, Sustainability (2018). DOI: 10.3390 / su10103683

Norwegian University of Science and Technology

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