NewScientist: To save the US economy, go on a diet!

cut out the soda, save the economyAccording to NewScientist, if Americans want to save their economy, they should go on a diet. Not only that, but ecologists say that "the apparently looming energy crisis could be averted if US residents cut their calorie intake."

On the surface, this sounds like it could be contradicting plain economic reason. The U.S. must consume more, not less, to save the economy, right? But is that long-term thinking in the face of higher food and energy costs?

The scientists who tried to bring their point across, David Pimentel of Cornell University and colleagues, showed how a few relatively simple changes can save energy. A lot of it. Changes include improvements in farming to more efficient bulbs, reduced transportation distances, cutting on packaging and more.

Fine, you say, what's that got to do with my diet?

Well, it seems that the average American consumes 50-100% more calories per day than is recommended by the US Food and Drug Administration. Those calories have to be produced, and producing them is apparently equivalent to about 528 gallons of oil per person each year, or about 19% of U.S. total energy use. So you see, dieting, or changing eating habits can reduce energy consumption in the U.S.

For example, it's enough that Americans replace animal products consumption with vegetable sources in their current rich diet. Just that would cut the required fossil fuel energy by one third. Or junk food, which counts for one third of Americans' calories. Cutting junk food could drastically cut the amount of energy used as well. Especially, researchers target low calorie junk food such as diet soda, which actually takes much energy to produce.

This is all very interesting, but how feasible are these changes? No doubt, the group of changes that involves more efficient farming should be implemented, but how about the rest? Wouldn't these measures of eating less animal products, junk food and overall dieting hurt several industries, from farming to junk-food makers to healthcare (as people eat less, healthcare costs due to overeating may be reduced).

Besides, it's hard enough to diet in order to look and feel good, would Americans really go on a diet because they're feeling patriotic?

Before becoming a lead editor on BloggingStocks, Melly Alazraki worked as an equity analyst and as an international institutional salesperson with various investment banks.

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