How much energy is there in all the excess human fat in the USA?

This paper, about the amount of energy contained in fat people in the USA, can fuel a new level of contentiousness in the nation’s ongoing, highly opinionated debates about energy policy, and perhaps about other things:


How much energy is locked in the USA? Alternative metrics for characterising the magnitude of overweight and obesity derived from BRFSS 2010 datadaniel reidpath,” Daniel D. Reidpath [pictured here], Mohd Masood, and Pascale Allotey, International Journal of Public Health, vol. 59, no. 3, 2014, pp. 503-507. (Thanks to Frédéric Darboux for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, at Monash University in, Selangor, Malaysia and the Universiti Teknologi MARA, Shah Alam, Malaysia, report:

“Methods: Behavioural Risk Factors Surveillance System data were used to estimate the weight the US population needed to lose to achieve a BMI\25. The metrics for population level overweight were total weight, total volume, total energy, and energy value.

“Results: About 144 million people in the US need to lose 2.4 million metric tonnes. The volume of fat is 2.6 billion litres—1,038 Olympic size swimming pools. The energy in the fat would power 90,000 households for a year and is worth around 162 million dollars….

2.4 million metric tonnes of human lard, 1,038 olympic sized swimming pools of human tallow, enough human cellulite to power 90,000 homes for a year, or USD$162 million of human dripping seems to have all the makings for some very confronting ways of talking about a nation with a serious overweight and obesity problem. Whether they are useful for motivating policy changes with real impact is an empirical question that remains to be tested.”