Could Solving Obesity Cause Disaster?

Coke Jeepney in Manila

Childhood Obesity News has presented quite a few posts about obesity around the world. What other health issue is so all-encompassing? It brings all of humanity together in a way that rarely happens. News of efforts to reverse childhood obesity comes from Dubai, India, and Vietnam, among others. The Arabic Gulf states are just like America, with sedentary children who eat too much fast food.

South Africa learned that well over half of its inhabitants were overweight or obese, with childhood obesity growing at a frightening rate. The research was done by a pharmaceutical company, whose spokesperson made a mystifying statement to the effect that obesity was not more prevalent among the lower economic class. If so, that would make South Africa different from most other places.

There are some championships that nobody wants to win. In 2013, Mexico surpassed the United States as the world’s fattest nation. All the signs pointed to the Coca-Cola Company as the single most responsible party. (Doesn’t “company” sound so much more down-home and relatable than “corporation?”)

What If We Were All Normal Weight?

One of the great ironies of our age is that solving one problem often causes another. Here is a thought experiment. What if all the overweight and obese earthlings were to become normal weight? That would be great, right? As it turns out, it might have unintended consequences. The reason can be found in the definition of “carbon footprint:”

The total amount of greenhouse gases produced to directly and indirectly support human activities, usually expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide (CO2).

Your carbon footprint is the sum of all emissions of CO2 (carbon dioxide), which were induced by your activities in a given time frame.

Carbon dioxide is an element of indoor air pollution, and a major player in the physical condition of the globe. Climate change activists offer suggestions for how an individual can shrink her or his carbon footprint. Yes, but how does this connect with childhood obesity, or adult obesity either, for that matter?

Ruben Meerman and Andrew Brown have established that fat is excreted from the body as water and carbon dioxide. It goes out of people and into the toilet or the air. If all the overweight and obese people on the planet were to lose their extra weight instantaneously, the resulting CO2 released into the atmosphere could have a devastating effect on global warming. Of course, weight loss doesn’t happen instantaneously, and the amount of CO2 released would be negligible compared to that released daily by vehicles and power plants.

Nevertheless, it’s worth thinking about.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “What is a carbon footprint-definition – definition,”, undated
Image by Chloe



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About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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