As if they didn’t already have enough problems to contend with, plus-sized people are now being blamed for global warming.
British scientists say they use up more fuel to transport them around, and the amount of food they eat requires more energy to produce than that consumed by those on smaller diets.
According to a team at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, this adds to food shortages and higher energy prices.
Researchers Phil Edwards said: “We are all becoming heavier, and it is a global responsibility. Obesity is a key part of the big picture.”
Mr Edwards and his colleague Ian Roberts argue that because thinner people eat less and are more likely to walk than rely on cars, a slimmer population would lower the demand for fuel and food.
Because 20 per cent of greenhouse gas stems from agriculture, any reduction in food consumption would help cut emissions.
Edwards and Roberts found that obese people need 1,680 daily calories to sustain normal energy and another 1,280 calories to maintain daily activities, 18 per cent more than someone with a healthy body mass index.
At least 400 million adults worldwide are obese. The World Health Organization (WHO) projects by 2015, 2.3 billion adults will be overweight, and more than 700 million will be obese.
“Promotion of a normal distribution of BMI would reduce the global demand for, and thus the price of, food,” Edwards and Roberts wrote in the latest edition of The Lancet.
But some nutrition and obesity experts said the research ignores more important reasons for increased food production.
“We throw away far more food than the extra 460 calories per day they point out,” said Dr Tim Church, chairman in health wisdom at Louisiana State University.
“In other words, most of our food overproduction is due to waste, not overeating.
Keith-Thomas Ayoob, paediatric nutritionist and associate professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, said: “Obese people have enough issues to deal with without being demonized for their impact on the environment. The truth is all people are an environmental burden. “