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Walking More, Driving Less Could Cut Food Prices

Transport and food policies inherently linked

FRIDAY, May 16 (HealthDay News) -- Reducing demand for transportation fuel can help resolve the current problem of global food insecurity, according to correspondence published in the May 17 issue of The Lancet.

Phil Edwards, Ph.D., and Ian Roberts, Ph.D., of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in the United Kingdom, argue that in a population of 1 billion people with a mean body mass index (BMI) of 24.5, daily consumption of food energy per person would be 6.5 MJ for maintenance of basal metabolic rate and 4 MJ per person for daily life activities, but in a population of 1 billion people with a mean BMI of 29, daily consumption would be 7 MJ for maintenance of basal metabolic rate and 5.4 MJ per person for daily life activities.

This 18 percent higher consumption of food energy among an obese versus a non-obese population also incurs extra fuel costs for food transportation, and for the increased use of cars instead of walking by obese people, they report.

"Urban transport policies that promote walking and cycling would reduce food prices by reducing the global demand for oil, and promotion of a normal distribution of BMI would reduce the global demand for, and thus the price of, food," the authors write. "Transport policy is food policy and the importance of sustainable transport must not be overlooked."

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