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Skip to 0 minutes and 6 seconds In the year 2000, we had about six billion people on the planet. And we can consider our diet in relation to the recommended 2,000 kilocalories per person per day consumption. Of the six billion people in the year 2000, about one and a half billion were having too much calorie. About one and a half billion were having too few calories. And the balance were having near the correct amount. Today, we see a population of 7.2, 7.3 billion. Of that, two and a half billion are overconsuming. We’ve got something approaching a billion underconsuming. And the diagram shows that the proportion of the people having approximately the right amount of calorie is reduced.

Skip to 1 minute and 3 seconds If we advance to 2025, there will be another billion people with a fair degree of certainty. Of that overall population of 8.3 billion, with trends as they are, we anticipate seeing over three and a half billion overconsuming calorie; hopefully less than a billion, but still a significant number, not having enough calorie; and hence, a proportionate amount having the correct amount of calorie reduced again. If we extrapolate through to 2040, we see a population of 9.3 billion people. Of those, we see something over five billion overconsuming calorie. We still see a significant number, perhaps a billion, underconsuming calorie.

Skip to 1 minute and 58 seconds The environmental consequences of meeting this demand using our current food system and consumption trends or diet– the impact on natural resources will be massive. We also see a significant impact in noncommunicable diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease. And that will be massive. Already we’re seeing a significant increase in these diseases at a societal level due to diet. As an example of the cost of this, in the UK, the National Health Service is spending about 10 billion pounds a year on diabetes management. And that is projected to increase to over 17 billion pounds a year in the coming decades. The message from this trend analysis is clear.

Skip to 2 minutes and 55 seconds By a simple extrapolation, we see the consequence for environment, for public health, for spend on disease control. The extrapolation is not a forecast. It is not necessarily going to happen. And there are many opportunities to change the direction of these trends. Managing consumption and demand has to be seen on an equal footing to managing production and supply. The important point is that without reducing our demand for food on the natural resources that underpin our food security, the situation will not improve. And the overall sustainability of our natural resource base for delivering the food security we need will be undermined.

Consumption trends and population growth

The global population, now over 7 billion, has grown significantly since the year 2000, and will be approximately 9 billion by 2040. In this video, Dr. John Ingram, of the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford, highlights trends in consumption and calorie intake between 2000 and 2015, and extrapolations of that trend to 2040, in line with global population growth estimates.

As the global population has increased, the numbers of people who over-consume and under-consume calories have shifted. While the number of people who under-consume is dropping slowly, the number of people who over-consume has grown at a much faster rate. This video examines some of the potential health crises that can occur due to growing over-consumption, and shows why managing consumption is as important for human and environmental health as managing food production.

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Food and Our Future: Sustainable Food Systems in Southeast Asia

Stockholm Environment Institute