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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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ScienceShot: The Weight of the World
17 June 2012 8:01 pm
The battle for our bulging waistlines is no longer just a health concern. A new report says we also need to consider the ecological effects of fat. Larger people require more food and energy, and with the United Nations projecting that there will be 9 billion humans by 2050, bigger bodies will gobble up even more resources. Researchers calculated the weight, or biomass, of the planet's adult population from data collected in 2005 by the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Measures included population size; a person's fat content, also known as body mass index; and height. Scientists found that the world's adult human population weighs 287 million tonnes. About 15 million tonnes was due to overweight people, and about one-third of that was due to the obese in North America, despite the fact that it contains only about 6% of the global population. Asia, meanwhile, accounts for 61% of the global population but only 13% of the world's overweight biomass is due to obesity in this region, the team reports online today in BMC Public Health. If populations in other countries begin to take after the United States, where 36% of the population is obese, the amount of energy required to support all that extra weight would increase by 481%.
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*This article has been updated for greater clarity.