If everyone were as overweight as Americans, it would be like adding a billion extra people

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POSTED: Sunday, June 24, 2012 - 10:00am

UPDATED: Sunday, June 24, 2012 - 10:04am

If everyone in the world were as overweight as Americans, it would be the equivalent of adding nearly 1 billion extra people to the human population, according to a newly released report.

Instead of measuring energy use solely on a country's population, the study -- published Monday in the journal BMC Public Health -- factored in the weight of that population.

Researchers argue that because it takes more energy for overweight and obese people to function, the actual energy use of a country is skewed by its average adult body mass.

"So, if you think of three people in a room, they use a certain amount of energy," said Dr. Richard N. Bergman, Director of the Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute at Cedars-Sinai Los Angeles. "Then, if those people happen to be obese, it's the same as having four people because they use more energy."

What does that mean exactly?

It means, that extra person in the room requires energy to make more food, to transport the food, to create more trash and other consequences, according to Dr. Bergman.

The United States topped the list of heaviest countries.

"North America has 6 percent of the world population but 34 percent of biomass due to obesity. Asia has 61 percent of the world population but 13 of biomass due to obesity," according to the study.

Or in other words, if every other country shared the United States weight woes, it would be like adding "an extra 935 million people of average body mass and have energy requirements equivalent to that of 473 million adults."

According to the study, many of the most obese countries, like the U.S., Kuwait and Egypt, rely on cars to move around because of lower gas prices in these places.

The study -- found online here -- was based on World Health Organization data from 2005.

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