Feeding the world, food waste and obesity

This week, experts in population growth, climate change, and in global food, fuel and water supply gathered in Dublin to discuss the potential threat to our food security for the remainder of our life time at ‘Feeding The World 2050’.

Here’s the problem – over the next 40 years the world population will grow to over 9 billion. To feed this population we will need to produce two-thirds more food than the current supply. During the same time weather conditions will be less predictable due to climate change with potential implications for crop yields, our energy supply will deplete and clean water will be more difficult to come by (although not here).

Speakers discussed novel technologies to increase crop yields, change the way plants utilise water and how to increase the nutritional quality of food and many other possible solutions. The bottom line, however, remains bleak. If we continue as we are, food will run out for many.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that we throw out 30% of the food we buy. An even higher percentage is lost during production and storage. Food waste is a big problem now and will become an even bigger problem as we move forward.

On top of that two-thirds of the people on this island are overweight or obese. This is not usually discussed in a food waste context, but you could say that eating more food than we need is wasteful.

I’m curious how these two issues will be tackled in the future. At the moment we are attempting to tackle obesity by promoting behaviour change, largely through education but some countries also use fiscal measures, taxes on sugary drinks, for example. You never know, perhaps this won’t be an issue in future as land dedicated to producing sugar will be turned over to fuel or food that is more nutritionally useful. Sugary drinks may simply no longer be available.

Here is a big question - will food rationing be part of future solutions to the obesity crisis?

It may well be. Meanwhile, we can’t ignore the serious health consequences that being overweight or obese bring. The time to act is now.
For information about reducing food waste, click here.

For more about healthy eating and weight loss, check out Weigh2Live, our weight loss resource. 

Posted: 18/01/2013 15:05:55 by Aileen McGloin
Filed under: Food, Food waste, Obesity

About Me

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Aileen McGloin
Hi, my name is Aileen McGloin and I am the Director of Marketing and Communications, at safefood. I trained as a public health nutritionist originally and am passionate about changing food-related behaviour. I have a particular interest in using digital technology to promote health. At home, I love books, am in a book club and married to a crime writer. I’m a fiend for all things fashion and like walking, swimming and TV that is so bad it’s good. I live in Co. Wicklow with my husband and 10 year old daughter.