Bigger people and growing populations could mean the world may soon face such an increase in demand for food, suppliers may be unable to keep up, scientists have warned.
A rising Body Mass Index (BMI), which evaluates weight in relation to height, alongside increasing body heights across most countries, are leading to a marked increase in global calorie requirements.
A study by academics at the University of Göttingen, which forecasts how calorific intake could change between 2010 and 2100, estimates global food consumption could rise by 80 per cent by the end of the century.
The vast majority – 60 per cent of the increase – would be due to population growth. Even if height and BMI remained static, demand for food is forecast to surge. But a further 20 per cent rise in demand will be due to the greater quantity of food required by larger humans.
In the UK, men and women have both seen an average height increase of 11cm over the last century, with an average man now standing 178cm (5ft 10in) tall, while women are 161cm (5ft 3 in).
On Monday, scientists also warned that climate change could spur stronger crop-wilting heatwaves that hit several of the world’s major grain producing regions simultaneously, potentially sparking food shortages and unrest.
Most vulnerable are the western regions of North America, western Europe, and western Russia and Ukraine, which together grow about a quarter of the world’s staple grains such as wheat, maize, soy and rice, are very susceptible to such heatwaves.