Nutritional forecast: We are heading for cheap malnutrition

Nutritional forecast: We are heading for cheap malnutrition

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Study: Global calorie requirement increases massively

The global food industry has been criticized for some time not to meet the current requirements. Previous studies have often emphasized that fewer and fewer people can afford good nutrition and that the current food industry is not sustainable enough. A new study is now rolling up the issue from a different angle and shows what could happen if current nutritional trends continue. The consequences for the environment were excluded.

Researchers at the Georg August University in Göttingen are examining for the first time the relationship between body weight and global calorie needs. In this way, the actual need for food that was needed by 2100 could be estimated. The study results were recently published in the renowned journal "PLOS ONE".

The fat years

The team from Göttingen analyzed changes in diet over the past decades and thus made a forecast for the diet over the next decades. There was a worldwide trend for an increased body mass index (BMI) and for an increased average body size. This also results in an increased average need for calories.

Future forecast for calorie needs

The development economist Professor Stephan Klasen worked with Dr. Lutz Depenbusch based on new analyzes a future forecast that shows how the daily calorie requirement could develop up to the year 2100. The development of nutrition in the Netherlands and Mexico served as a benchmark. "The developments in these countries are very pronounced, but they are definitely a realistic scenario," reports Dr. Depenbusch.

60 percent more calories in 2100

Even if we had already reached the zenith of increasing BMI and height, people would consume an average of over 60 percent more calories a day in 2100. According to the study, the BMI and body size continue to increase as in the past decades, the calorie requirement increases by 78 percent.

The trend can only be maintained through malnutrition

The researchers believe it is unlikely that this problem can be resolved through a globally falling BMI. Instead, the researchers fear that a large part of the world's population will increasingly resort to foods that are cheap and at the same time high in calories but low in nutrients.

Will healthy eating be a privilege in the future?

Since it is likely from today's perspective that food production will not be able to meet the global requirements of the future, the demand for healthy products would increase more and more and so would the price. Conversely, while richer people could maintain their diet, poorer people would have to turn to unhealthy products containing fat and sugar. "As a result, body weight could continue to increase under the arms, while malnutrition increases," Depenbusch sums up. (vb)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • Lutz Depenbusch, Stephan Klasen: The effect of bigger human bodies on the future global calorie requirements, Plos One, 2019,
  • Georg-August-Universität Göttingen: How much will we eat in the future? (Call: 09.12.2019),

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