By Elton Gomes
People may require more food in the future for adequate nourishment than they do today or in their previous generations.
Such changes in eating habits may arise due to increase in average height and weight of the following generation, according to a recent study.
The world’s population could level off at around nine billion in a few years, compared to just over 7.6 billion now. “It will be harder to feed nine billion people in 2050 than it would be today,” said Gibran Vita, one of the researchers from Norwegian University of Science and Technology, NDTV reported.
Changes in eating habits, attitudes toward food waste, increases in height and body mass, and demographic transitions are some of the reasons why people in the future could need more food to sustain themselves.
What did the researchers study?
Professor Daniel B. Müller and colleagues Felipe Vásquez and Gibran Vita looked at 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,” Vita said, Phys.org reported.
What did they find?
The researchers noted that an average adult in 2014 was 14 percent heavier, about 1.3 percent taller, 6.2 percent older, and needed 6.1 percent more energy than in 1975. The researchers propose that this trend can be seen in most countries.
“An average global adult consumed 2465 kilocalories per day in 1975. In 2014, the average adult consumed 2615 kilocalories,” says Vita, Phys.org reported.
On a global level, human consumption increased by 129 percent during the 1975 to 2014. Population growth was responsible for 116 percent of consumption, while increased weight and height accounted for 15 percent. The researchers also noted that older people need a little less food, but an ageing population resulted in only two percent less consumption.
“The additional 13 percent corresponds to the needs of 286 million people,” Vásquez said, as per the Phys.org report.
Some countries have shown rapid changes. On Saint Lucia in the Caribbean, the average weight increased from 62 kilos in 1975 to 82 kilos 40 years later. The lowest and highest changes were mainly found in Asia and Africa, thus indicating the disparities between the countries of these continents.
How is the problem of hunger being tackled?
Hunger is slowly turning into a largescale problem. If we will need more food to feed future populations, we have to prevent hunger from becoming a chronic problem.
The World Bank seems to be taking active steps to combat hunger around the world. According to Juergen Voegele, senior director, agriculture global practice, “We’re tackling the food insecurity challenge by implementing integrated solutions that cut across sectors. It’s not just a matter of sustainable resource management, more efficient storage or even producing more food. It encompasses all of the above—and more,” according to a statement in the World Bank.
The Bank is helping countries in managing landscapes such as farms, forests, watersheds, and coastal fisheries so that they become more productive. In addition, the Bank is empowering the farmers by providing crop insurance. It is also expanding access to financial services and improving access to resources for women.
What’ll we eat in the future?
The future has plenty of exciting things in the culinary field. Future foods could be made in such a way that we could eat to our heart’s content and more. Fine-tuning our biology could allow us to eat without guilt in the future.
Furthermore, plenty of new flavours could be added to food items. Silicon Valley is slowly becoming the global hub for food innovation. A start-up currently making waves is Impossible Foods.
To give you a glimpse of future foods, this startup has created a meat-free burger that sizzles in the pan, tastes like meat, and ‘bleeds’. That’s not all – the futuristic burger has been designed to be sustainable and environmentally friendly. Impossible Foods has certainly set the ball rolling in terms of what can be possible with foods in the future.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius
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