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12 December 2013 1:00 pm ,
Vol. 342 ,
The iconic 125-year-old Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton near San Jose, California, is facing the threat of closure...
Recent results from the Curiosity Mars rover have helped scientists formulate a plan for the next phase of its mission...
A new, remarkably powerful drug that cripples the hepatitis C virus (HCV) came to market last week, but it sells for $...
In pretoothbrush populations, gumlines would often be marred by a thick, visible crust of calcium phosphate, food...
Evolutionary biologists have long studied how the Mexican tetra, a drab fish that lives in rivers and creeks but has...
Victorian astronomers spent countless hours laboriously charting the positions of stars in the sky. Such sky mapping,...
In an ambitious project to study 1000 years of sickness and health, researchers are excavating the graveyard of the now...
Stefan Behnisch has won awards for designing science labs and other buildings that are smart, sustainable, and...
- 12 December 2013 1:00 pm , Vol. 342 , #6164
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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.