After a year filled with superstorms, droughts, floods, and wildfires, there’s little doubt that climate change is having a dramatic impact on our lives. But it also threatens to cause more subtle impacts on our health. And we’re just starting to get a handle on what they might be. The latest? It looks like climate change and its effect on food production might take the obesity crisis in the U.S. to a whole new level.
A series of letters in the current issue of the American Journal of Public Health -- all of which are highly speculative -- explores the relationship. The theory comes out of recent work on the links between food prices, “food insecurity,” and obesity.
For the record, food insecurity is distinct from hunger. The USDA defines it as “limited or uncertain access to adequate food” -- something experienced by almost 15 percent of American households at some point last year. It can result in hunger, which is considered a physiological condition, but it doesn’t always. Sometimes food insecurity has a greater psychological effect whereby people make poor decisions about what and how much to eat when the prospect of not enough food presents itself.