There can be no doubt about it in anyone’s mind can there? There is an epidemic of obesity sweeping the World that is threatening our human existence with extinction and indeed survival of this very planet, isn’t there?
The increasingly heavy burden on the world’s population imposed by obesity affects both rich and poor nations alike. Research indicates staggeringly that globally some thirty percent of people now are either obese or overweight, which means an eye watering excess of two billion people overall.
That comes together with a population explosion. For example, the UK population is rushing up at an alarmingly record rate (over half a million in the past year alone and well more than half of that through immigration – 65½ million total population now), with fewer deaths and more births contributing
The world population itself is growing ‘exponentially’, so the Earth’s natural resources (like minerals, water, energy and fertile land) that our very lives depends on, are going to run out sooner rather than later, aren’t they? It is no good convincing ourselves that society will find a clever way around that, to develop some sustainable alternative ‘magical’ scientific replacement of those limited resources, nor can we pretend that there is a feasible way of preventing that cancerous growth in inhabitant numbers worldwide, is there?
Whether or not one accepts the impact of mankind in creating the global warming scenario we are experiencing, the baseline fact is that our planet is ‘heating-up’ and that alone is depleting those resources relied on to support our populations. That is compounded by man’s wilful mindless destruction of forests for timber and fuel (half the original forests have now gone with three quarters of their global area demolished just in last quarter of a century!), swamps, plains, fertile land with its overuse & overgrazing, fish stocks & marine life, lakes & rivers with the shrinking availability of fresh water, which into the bargain ignores the world’s dependence on the planet’s incredible eco-systems and widespread biodiversity of the vast variety of animals (a couple of million species of mammals, birds, reptiles and fish, at least?) and plants that sustain it, and ignoring nature’s survival interdependences on the interactions of all forms of life.
The needs of incessantly increasing human food consumption has adverse impacts with consequential land clearances for agriculture, housing, hospitals, factories & industrial units, chemical & pharmaceutical plants, roads, railways, airports, pipelines, energy supply, and the like. Despite dramatically increased ‘use’ efficiency, our ongoing extraction and usage of even the world’s limited ‘raw materials’ grows like Topsy (up by a massive half, just in last quarter of a century) and that has major environmental impacts, not least particularly in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Time for the richest nations to tighten their belts on squandering the planet’s limited resources with their constantly increasingly production & consumption needs (manufactured products have doubled in the past twenty years alone), as well as indeed fully recycling stuff made from natural resources instead of shoving it in landfill, don’t you think?
It is the rich, high consuming, industrialised countries of course that purloin the most natural resources (minerals, biomass not used as food, fossil fuels, metals), so use ten times as much as the poorest (with America, and Europe major culprits and Asia paying the greatest price).
Many species of animal life are now deemed ‘endangered’ or ‘threatened’, meaning that there is a strong possibility they will simply be wiped-out – mostly by the actions of us humans, and eighty-five percent down to loss of habitat stolen by our selfishness, as incessant creation of additional areas of food production progresses, together with irresponsible levels of timber harvesting. Drought and other climate changes, as well as disease, has brought the known extinction in our most recent lifetimes of the likes of the golden toad and the harlequin frog, while unbelievably the Earth has lost half of its wildlife numbers in the past forty years, say the WWF?
Our coastal and marine areas don’t escape scot-free either because their natural resources also get besmirched, with associated degradation of marine habitats causing the destruction of the diverse species that rely on them to survive.
You see, even twenty-five years ago nearly half our world’s people lived within just some thirty-five miles of the coast, not least because the oceans were the source of a sustainable food supply – not any longer though because those changes in its societies and their living, that involved significant population growth & its feeding, urbanization, industrialisation, consumerism and the like, as well as tourism, have changed all that.
Being close to rivers and their freshwater eco-systems has historically also been popular for human settlement, because they provided food, transport systems and some irrigation. However, man’s abuse of nature has seriously impacted those worldwide as well, because of widespread pollution [from literally shit as well as land chemicals leeching], dams [45 thousand major around the world blocking proper waterflow), with fresh water usage (up sevenfold) with abstraction by a population (up fourfold), all that having a devastating impact on freshwater systems. The result of it being the breakneck-speed decline in animal numbers (three-quarters down in forty years) , the extinction of some species and the near extinction of others
In general, how has a tragedy of species extinction happened? Well. apart from habitat loss, our wildlife gets decimated by its exploitation including illegal trade, human-wildlife conflict, pollution, climate change, as well as at sea the growing ‘by-catch’ collection of fish and marine life by highly ‘unselective’ modern or industrialised style fishing.
Rare animals critically endangered and therefore likely to go extinct include the Bornean orangutan (species of great apes), ili pika (small mammal type Chinese short-eared rabbit), giant otter (known as “river-wolf’), Amur leopard (wild big cat already extinct in China & Korea), black-footed ferret (N. American weasel), Darwin’s Zorro (carnivorous fox from Chile), Sumatran rhinoceros (double horned Asian rhino), white-rumped vulture (scavenger of dead carcasses), pangolin (solitary nocturnal scaly ant & termite eater), saola (antelope like mammal), vaquita (cetacean small porpoise), Peruvian black spider monkey (fruit-eating monkey). Amongst those now extinct in the wild, Alagoas curassow (1988), black soft-shell turtle (2002), escarpment cycad (2006), Guam kingfisher (1986). Only saved from extinction by zoos, Arabian oryx, golden lion tamarin, Puerto Rican parrot. freshwater mussels, California condo, Kihansi spray toad, Przewalski horse.
That worrying situation regarding the state of the world is increasingly further de-stabled by the horrific statistics on increasing obesity – where poverty itself bizarrely plays a significant part there as well, doesn’t it? Yep, in the richest societies, it is the poorest with their lifestyle who take the poorest choices about their food intake, which often has poor nutritional quality, and that often combines with much decreased levels of physical activity. The cheapest food in fully developed communities generally comes in processed food (often containing excessive amounts of sugar & salt) and that poor diet which includes so-called “junk food” (cheap, fatty, sugary, salty, high-calorie), is augmented by the too readily available sources of additional sugar intake, particularly in sweet carbonated soft drinks – that of course is in addition to the naturally occurring ‘healthy’ sugars found in fruit, vegetables, as well as milk of course, that would normally be part of a balanced diet, as they are accompanied by the nutritional benefits of fibre, vitamins, and minerals.
The biggest concerning issue is that in general our population’s intake of energy from sugar is between 2 to 3 times what is considered healthy. Without doubt it is sugar that is the root cause of UK (and western?) obesity and that factor is compounded by the massive level of stress that modern society throws on us humans. Obesity and overweightness, not only is contributing to this planet’s ultimate destruction through food production, but into the bargain it is destroying the quality of the unnecessarily limited lives of those afflicted, because of the debilitating conditions and illnesses (like diabetes, cancers, heart disease, stroke, with links to mental illness – with many consequential deaths) it often brings on, isn’t it? Furthermore, in Britain where two-thirds of us adults are overweight or obese, we have to be aware that such obesity comes at massive financial cost, specifically to the Health Service as well as industry, which the Country can ill-afford, can it?
[Obesity presents a bigger cost for Britain than war and terror as nearly an extra fifty-billion pounds sterling are used-up on healthcare and social cost on the overweight].
Surely, it is time for us ALL to recognise the facts and severely cut-back on sugars and syrups (like powered white sugar, fruit juice, honey, treacle, maple) as well as consumption of ‘refined’ carbohydrates (like all flour, most breads, most cereals, grains like instant oatmeal, powered starch, pies, pastries, most pasta, ice cream, sweetened yogurt, biscuits, cakes, chocolate, sweets, sweet wines & liqueurs, that are rapidly absorbed causing dangerous spikes in blood glucose), as opposed to natural carbohydrates (like whole grains such as rice or oat or, barley, nuts, coconut unsweetened, eggs, fresh fruit, olives, vegetables, natural dairy products such as milk or plain yogurt or cheese or butter, most red or white wines & spirits, that are slowly absorbed), because although that is not the only factor, it is the only way that our society is going to halt this relentless march into obesity?
The British government are making a start by trying this year (it must be said against an united substantial opposition from the trade that includes manufacturers, pubs & off-licences, and convenience stores) to introduce a ‘sugar tax’ (revenue totalling £½ billion) on large portioned sweetened drinks from next April (which will NOT apply to ALL supply of such products), but as this measure is targeted towards reducing childhood obesity (and even if effective on that?), it clearly ISN’T going to be sufficient to tackle sugar intake implicated in ADULT obesity, is it?
Main adult consumption of sugar includes much from soft drinks; table & confectioner’s sugar; confectionery; fruit juice; biscuits, buns, cakes, pastries, puddings; pies; breakfast cereals; and for just some of us, alcohol drinks.
Also implicated in obesity is junk food (high in calories but low in nutritional value), which often contains high amounts of sugar and fat without providing many of the minerals, vitamins or nutrients that are essential to good health. However, people opt to eat junk food, which is popular as it stimulates the reward system in the brain because of its high-energy content (highly sought-after and desirable in a primitive food scarce environment), whence the body releases feel-good chemicals. However, that response by the body in a developed environment where there is a glut of energy that simply contributes to developing obesity, doesn’t it?
In order to reduce our risk of obesity, it is essential to reduce (not necessarily ‘eliminate’) our intake of all unhealthy processed foods and replace them with fruit, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and nuts, isn’t it?
[The UK Government must listen at long last to the medical experts and take ‘effective action’ on obesity if our British society is to have any chance of survival, and that will require overriding the vested interests of the plethora of selfish business concerns that are making their fortunes out of the current & impending misery of the multitude – that will have significant financial and welfare benefits to the Country they have been elected to serve].
A FOLLOWUP POST TITLED ”Obesity in Children – disgraceful parental neglect?” IS TO FOLLOW LATER