Fat: A Solar System View of the Fat Problem on Earth, Especially in the USA

The Earth spins like a top as it circles the sun.   It’s a pretty heavy thing.   On its surface for four billion years have been a variety of animals, birds, bugs, boulders, amphibians, fish and humans.  Even, for awhile, dinosaurs.  The Earth has handled the weight.

In the last 50 years, the population of humans has increased exponentially.  Fifty years ago, there were two billion of them.  Now there are seven billion of them.   This is a heavy burden for the Earth.

In the last 50 years, the humans have also, on average, gotten very fat.   Studies have been made about the cause of it.  Most of the studies come to the conclusion that the problem is humans stuffing too much food into their mouths. In any case, this is an even heavier burden for the Earth.   And the Earth, it is thought by some, is wobbling a little bit under it.  But maybe not.

Two weeks ago, the United Nations and World Health Organization issued a joint report to quantify the magnitude of the problem.   It is quite alarming.   The weight of the entire adult human population on the earth’s surface is about 633 billion pounds.   Of this, about 30 billion pounds is jiggly overweight fat, enough to equal, if you were to make whole normal people out of it, complete with organs, skin and bones, a country filled with the same number of adults as are in the United States.

Indeed, the United States is the greatest producer of fat.  One-third of all the excess fat in the world today is from North America.  If fat were marketable, if fat were good for something, all our economic problems would go away.   But it isn’t.  So they don’t.

I mean, if the Earth’s problem were that it was too light on its feet, too much in need of more weight to keep it from flying off into the cold environs of Pluto, we would be the one to supply it.  The rest of the world would applaud us.  We would jiggle around with joy doing a happy dance.

But that’s not what it is.  The fact is that all this fat is a big problem, not only in relation to the health of those of us who are carrying it around, but in relation to the problems of the environment.

Bigger people require more energy to live.  They burn it up moving around.  They burn it up sitting still.  They burn it up having to lift extra fat.  They get this extra energy from eating extra food.   From a second study, also done last month by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, global fatness therefore puts an additional strain on the Earth’s food security and environmental resources. To satisfy the fat, we need more cattle, more rice paddies, more fruits and vegetables, more Big Macs.  Professor Ian Roberts, who led the research at LSHTM, was interviewed about this on the BBC.  (These are real reports and real places.  Sometimes I make things up.   I’m not making this up.)

“When people think about environmental sustainability,” he said, “they immediately focus on population.  Actually, when it comes down to it, it’s not how many mouths there are to feed, it is how much flesh there is on the planet.”

And then there is this.   If a certain amount of extra fat can hold down the earth to keep it from flying off into the cold reaches of the solar system, then these new excessive tons of extra pounds might actually be causing the Earth to slide in a bit toward the sun, causing what we are experiencing in rising temperatures.  (It’s not carbon emissions at all!!  The Tea Party was RIGHT!!)

“Unless we tackle both population and fatness our chances are slim,” Professor Roberts told another interviewer, this time for the Daily Telegraph of London.

In 2050, according to the U. N., the Earth’s population will be over 9 billion.   We have to stop this.

So YES!!, we are in favor of Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to ban all Coca Cola and other sugary soft drinks in New York City that come in containers  that hold more than 16 ounces.  Way to go, Mr. Mayor.

Save the Earth.  Think of puppy dogs and other innocent creatures trotting around on the surface of it.   They need to be saved too.

Shed your fat.  And for my other five tips to overcome emotional eating, get your credit cards out and read on.

I’ll just wait for you to do that.

BACK TO Dan Rattiner's Stories