Gemini Research News has some bad news for the Earth’s growing population. It turns out that our farms will face some trouble because we’re going to be bigger, healthier, and a lot hungrier than we’ve been counting on:
“It will be harder to feed 9 billion people in 2050 than it would be today,” says Gibran Vita, a PhD candidate at NTNU ‘s Industrial Ecology Programme.
The number of people could level off at around nine billion in a few years, compared to just over 7.6 billion now.
But an average person in the future will require more food than today. Changes in eating habits, attitudes towards food waste, increases in height and body mass, and demographic transitions are some of the reasons.
Professor Daniel B. Müller and colleagues Felipe Vásquez and Vita analysed changes in the populations of 186 countries between 1975 and 2014.
“We studied the effects of two phenomena. One is that people on average have become taller and heavier. The second is that the average population is getting older,” said Vita.
The first phenomenon contributes to increased food demand. The second counteracts the former one.
An average adult in 2014 was 14 per cent heavier, about 1.3 per cent taller, 6.2 per cent older, and needed 6.1 per cent more energy than in 1975. Researchers expect this trend to continue for most countries.
“An average global adult consumed 2465 kilocalories per day in 1975. In 2014, the average adult consumed 2615 kilocalories,” says Vita.
Most studies estimate that an average adult’s food needs remain constant over time and fairly similar across nations. But that’s not how it is.
“These assumptions can lead to errors in assessing how much food we’ll actually need to meet future demand,” Vásquez says.
This study provides relevant information for the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which is a leader in the struggle to ensure food security for all.