The study which calculated the change in deaths attributable to climate-related changes in diet and weight in 155 world regions, concluded that the health effects of climate change from changes in diet and weight could be substantial, and exceed other climate-related health impacts that have been estimated.
The modelling study projected that by 2050, climate change will lead to per-person reductions of 3.2 per cent in global food availability, 4.0 per cent in fruit and vegetable consumption, and 0.7 per cent in red meat consumption.
The researchers predict that in Africa and Asia, low-income people will suffer more deaths from not getting enough calories, or from risk factors related to weight, while in higher income countries, deaths will rise as a result of illnesses stemming from reduced intake of fruits and vegetables high in nutritional value.
“Twice as many climate-related deaths were associated with reductions in fruit and vegetable consumption than with climate-related increases in the prevalence of underweight, and most climate-related deaths were projected to occur in South and East Asia”, the researchers say.
However, the researchers say the adoption of climate-stabilisation efforts could reduce the number of climate-related deaths by 29 to 71 per cent, depending on the stringency of application.
“Climate change mitigation could prevent many climate-related deaths. Strengthening of public health programmes aimed at preventing and treating diet and weight-related risk factors could be a suitable climate change adaptation strategy,” the study says.
By Emmanuel Odonkor