WASHINGTON -- Thanks to economic progress and high-consumption lifestyles, people in developed countries are generally eating more and living better, but their health and the environment are suffering, the Worldwatch Institute said Thursday.
While developed countries enjoy "all-you-can-eat" economies, people living in the Third World are often left behind, Worldwatch concluded in a report, "Vital Signs 2001: The Trends That are Shaping Our Future."
"We're finding more and more evidence that the developed world's consumption-filled lifestyle choices are often as unhealthy for ourselves as for the planet we inhabit," said Michael Renner, director of the project.
Worldwatch, a Washington-based organization that researches global trends in economics and the environment, this year teamed up with the U.N. Environment Programme to produce the report, its 10th since 1992.
Aided by the U.S. economy's 5.2 percent growth in 2000, the global economy grew 4.7 percent. Still, 1.2 billion people live in severe poverty and more than 1 billion do not have enough to eat, according to the report.
World grain harvest declined 1.6 percent from 1999 to 2000, but at 1.84 billion tons it remains almost three times as high as it was in 1950. One billion people are eating too much, contributing to a "global epidemic of obesity," the report said. The United States leads the world in population of overweight men and women -- 61 percent of the country's adults, Worldwatch found.
Increasing use of cars -- 532 million in 2000 -- has led to less active lifestyles and harmed the environment, according to the report. While world carbon emissions from fossil fuels dropped for the third year in a row, the United States' emissions are about 13 percent higher than they were in 1990. America is responsible for 24 percent of the world's total carbon emissions, more than any other country.
Meanwhile, the ecosystem is under attack, Worldwatch said.
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