Western BMI and the culture of overconsumption

World population pie chart

World population pie chart (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What a fascinating thought! The BBC News Health report on 12th July (not a good day in Northern Ireland!) offered readers the opportunity to enter their weight, height, age, sex and nationality into a calculator to gauge their BMI and measure that against global averages using data from other countries.

All well and good; typical of the simplistic nature of these online things. However what caught my eye was that researchers are apparently saying that the increase in obesity could well have the same impact on global resources as an extra billion people. Well, wow! I hadn’t quite equated those two things. Now I am beginning to.

If the global population is about 7 billion and global obesity ratings equate to an increase of another billion on top of that, the projections for 8 billion actual people on the planet means we are near the 9 billion that is projected for 2030. Whoops!

Now that makes the whole scenario more interesting (from the perspective of the fly on the wall). I subscribe to Population Matters which is the new name for the old Optimum Population Trust that is a great resource for all things global and to do with population growth, density, ethnicity, health, planning and all the rest in this growing list. The list is so long it actually does seriously encompass everything we do. This quote from Attenborough is part of their header page.

“All environmental problems become harder – and ultimately impossible – with ever more people.”

Sir David Attenborough

It seems the awareness of the burgeoning global population with this little added fillip of observation by researchers appears to increase the delusionary aspect of human perceptive ability. People refuse to think that any problem related to any population be it human or not has anything to do with them.

It is almost like thinking that you are part of the human race until there appears to be a massive problem that is outside your own personal control and then you become the fly on the wall – an observer rather than a participant and a much safer place from which to declaim.

It would seem to be actually impossible to pound the necessary information and its implications into the thick heads that constitute humanity. Even the better educated ones of us living in developed countries with magnificent lifestyles (comparatively speaking) have little if any sense of responsibility to our species’ genetic survival.

It is fair to say that we are in the middle of an extinction period but we seem unable to appreciate any stretch of time longer than our life spans. Except if it is history – then we lift the palette and a brush and colour the historical canvas with our biases. So that’s not much good for a real view either.

I know that I do it and I am no different from anyone else. I taught history to students from the middle east in the 1970s and their view of their history was so removed and insular from my view of their history that it brought me up short. It was an eye opening experience to understand how different we all are while being all the same.

Anyway enough of that. The bare facts are:

  1. We need to curtail our breeding not least because medical technology is advancing at such a rate that we are not longer replacing ourselves but increasing our number insupportably.
  1. We need to stop consuming as much as we do in the privileged and wealthy areas of the world. This means a deliberately enforced austerity so that our consumption of food and associated problems do not constitute a greater consumption (also unsustainable) of available medical and health services.

We seem blithely unaware of our seriously unfortunate fellows in truly awful places with little or no food, health, medical aid, water, electricity and suffering from heaps of diseases.

Being white, middle class and having an income (wherever it may come from) is just terrific for maybe the next 30 to 50 years (if that long). It can’t last.

Time we all saw a sliver of reality amongst the neon.


One comment on “Western BMI and the culture of overconsumption

  1. Veronique says:

    Now I have read about Michael Gove and his endorsement of ‘faith schools’ that are about to teach ‘creationism’ as though it were real.

    I shake my head with exasperation, write letters to Gove and my MP, comment on online news items and generally make a nuisance of myself. GOOD!!!!! I will not stop.

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