Skip to main content

When you think of climate change, you think of melting ice-caps, rising temperatures, and raging wildfires. When you think of climate change and public health, you think of heat waves and poor air quality. In regards to climate change, the last thing you would connote that with is obesity.

However, a new study has found that climate change can cause an increased risk of obesity.

Climate Change is Causing Obesity

“When temperatures rise, people typically become less physically active and that’s associated not only with obesity prevalence but also with more use of gas-powered transportation,” Christian Koch, MD, PhD, study co-author and the director of the Fox Chase Cancer Center’s division of endocrinology.

Research published in the journal Hormone and Metabolic Research suggests that greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels have significantly increased in the last 70 years.

climate change

Photo by Gabriel Kuettel from Pexels

According to researchers from Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, this upward trajectory will continue and this will then lead to severe weather events. This, in turn, will trigger more sedentary behavior, especially among people who have obesity.

The researchers also reveal that climate change will also trigger subsequent use of fossil-fuel-dependent transportation among people with obesity.

Therefore, as climate change worsens, obesity is likely to increase. When it does, it will continue to negatively affect the environment even more than it already has.

There’s also a cancer risk

The researchers also noted that there’s also an increased risk for cancers that are associated with obesity. How so? Obesity is often linked to higher insulin levels, and this factor has been associated with cancer development.

Secondly, fat tissue in women can produce estrogen, and this has been linked to breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancers.

According to Dr. Koch, these cancers include breast, endometrial, esophageal, colorectal, and liver cancers, as well as cancers of the thyroid, pancreas, kidney, and gallbladder.

“With this commentary, we’re trying to raise awareness about how things interconnect,” says Dr. Koch. “People need to know about these associations.”

Tackling obesity and climate change

obesityThe first step, according to Dr. Koch, is acknowledging that there’s a problem. Once we do that, we can then properly address the issue.

Thankfully, because everything is so connected, effectively addressing one issue is sure to positively affect the others.

“We know there is a bidirectional relationship between climate change and obesity,” says Dr. Koch. “That means strategies that improve the health of each individual can also have an effect on the planet.”

Therefore, it’s important for communities to encourage healthy lifestyle habits that can address obesity. For example, encouraging walking and cycling won’t only keep people active, but it will also help to reduce their carbon footprint. Secondly, adopting a plant-based diet won’t only help to curb obesity rates, but it’s also much better for the environment.

Want to know more?

Leonardo DiCaprio is certainly no stranger when it comes to sustainability and now DiCaprio is also putting his money where his mouth is by investing in cell-based meat companies.


Koch, C. A., Sharda, P., Patel, J., Gubbi, S., Bansal, R., & Bartel, M. J. (2021). Climate Change and Obesity. Hormone and metabolic research = Hormon- und Stoffwechselforschung = Hormones et metabolisme, 53(9), 575–587.

Najjar, R. S., & Feresin, R. G. (2019). Plant-Based Diets in the Reduction of Body Fat: Physiological Effects and Biochemical Insights. Nutrients, 11(11), 2712.

Pie Mulumba

Pie Mulumba

Pie Mulumba is a beauty and wellness writer who has a passion for poetry, equality, natural hair, and skin-care. With a journalism degree from Pearson's Institute of Higher Education, and identifiable by either her large afro or colorful locks, Pie aspires to continuously provide the latest information, be it beauty or wellness, on how one can adopt a healthy lifestyle on a day-to-day basis.

The content in this editorial is for general information only and is not intended to provide medical or other professional advice. For more information on your medical condition and treatment options, speak to your healthcare professional.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.