Luxus Consumption: Wasting Food Resources Through Overeating
- 826 Downloads
In this paper, we redefine the term luxus consumption to mean food waste and overconsumption leading to storage of body fat, health problems, and excess resource utilization. We develop estimates of the prevalence of luxus consumption and its environmental consequences using US food supply, agricultural, and environmental data and using procedures modeled after energetics analysis and ecological footprint analysis. Between 1983 and 2000, US food availability (food consumption including waste) increased by 18% or 600 kcal (2.51 MJ) per person. This luxus consumption required 0.36 hectares (ha) of land and fishing area per capita, 100.6 million ha for the US population, and 3.1% of total US energy consumption. Luxus consumption increased more for particular foods, such as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), 22% of which was used in carbonated beverages. As an example, the luxus consumption of sweetened soda, 31.8 l per capita, used 0.8% of the US corn crop (230,555 ha of land); 33.6 million kg of nitrogen fertilizer; 175,000 kg of Atrazine herbicide; 34 million kg of nitrogen fertilizer; 2.44 trillion kcal (10.2 PJ) for production inputs and post-harvest handling; and led to 4.9 million metric tons of soil erosion. Diet soft drink luxus consumption was 43.9 l/capita. Assuming half of US soft drink luxus consumption was bottled in plastic, the energy cost for plastics would have been 2.49 trillion kcal (10.4 PJ) in 2000. Total HFCS availability above baseline in 2000 required 4.6 times the resources used for soft drinks alone. This analysis suggests the utility and applicability of the concept of luxus consumption to environmental analysis and for estimating the effects of excess food utilization.
KeywordsCaloric analysis Carbonated beverage consumption Ecological impact analysis Environment Food waste High fructose corn syrup Luxus consumption Obesity Overeating US food supply data
Body Mass Index
Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System
USDA Continuing Survey of Food Intakes of Individuals
High Fructose Corn Syrup
National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys
United States Food Supply Data
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- American Plastics Council (2002). “PlasticsResource.Com: Plastics 101: Uses of plastics.” Arlington, Virginia: American Plastics Council, Inc. Accessed July 23, 2003 at http://www.plasticsresource.com/s_plasticsresource/sec.asp?TRACKID=& CID=125&DID=227.
- Blair, D. 1996
“Eating in the Bioregion”Chesworth, J. eds. The Ecology of Health: Identifying Issues and AlternativesSage PublicationsThousand Oaks, California297307Google Scholar
- Bray, G. A., Nielsen, S. J., Popkin, B. M. 2004“Consumption of high fructose corn syrup in beverages may play a role in the epidemic of obesity”American Journal of Clinical Nutrition79537543Google Scholar
- Buttel, F. H. 1992“Environmentalization: Origins, processes, and implications for rural social change”Rural Sociology57127Google Scholar
- Carley, M., Spapens, P. 1998Sharing the World: Sustainable Living and Global Equity in the 21st CenturySt. Martins PressNew York, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- CDC (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) (2003). “US obesity trends: 1985–2001.” Atlanta, Georgia: Nutrition and Physical Activity. Accessed June 16, 2003 at http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/obesity/trend/maps/index.htm.
- Chambers, N., Simmons, C., Wachernagel, M. 2000Sharing Nature’s Interest: Ecological Footprints as an Indicator of SustainabilityEarthscan Publications, LtdLondon, United KingdomGoogle Scholar
- Colditz, G. A. 1992“Economic costs of obesity”American Journal of Clinical Nutrition155503S507SGoogle Scholar
- Corn Refiners Association (2002). “The corn refining process.” Washington DC: Corn Refiners Association, Inc. Accessed June 18, 2003 at http://www.corn.org/web/process.htm.
- EIA (US Energy Information Administration) (2003). “Renewables: US energy consumption by energy source, 1997–2001.” Washington DC: Energy Information Administration, Department of Energy. Accessed June 17, 2003 at http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/solar.renewables/page/rea_data/ table1.html.
- Elliott, S. S., Keim, N. L., Stern, J. S., Teff, K., Havel, P. 2002“Fructose, weight gain, and the insulin resistance syndrome”American Journal of Clinical Nutrition76911922Google Scholar
- Enns, C., Wilkenson, J., Goldman, D., Cook, A. 1997“Trends in food and nutrient intakes by adults: NFCS 1977–78, CSFII 1989–91, and CSFII 1994–95”Family Economics and Nutrition Review10215Google Scholar
- EPA (US Environmental Protection Agency) (2002). “Product stewardship: Packaging: Industry initiatives.” Washington DC: US Environmental Protection Agency. Accessed on June 23, 2003 at http://www.epa.gov/epaoswer/non-hw/reduce/epr/products/pindust.html.
- EPA (US Environmental Protection Agency) (2003). “Charge to the FIFRA Scientific Advisory Panel: Atrazine carcinogenicity, June 27–29, 2000.” Washington DC: Scientific Advisory Panel, US Environmental Protection Agency. Accessed on June 23, 2003, at http://www.epa.gov/scipoly/sap/2000/june27/charge.htm.
- ERS (US Economic Research Service) (2002). “Data: Food consumption (per capita) data system.” Washington DC: Economic Research Service, US Department of Agriculture. Accessed on June 27, 2003 at http://www.ers.usda.gov/data/foodconsumtion/.
- ERS (US Economic Research Service) (2003). “US food supply: Food supply data base.” Washington DC: Economic Research Service, US Department of Agriculture. Accessed on June 24, 2003 at http://www.ers.usda.gov/data/foodcon sumption/FoodAvailIndex.htm.
- Farnsworth, H. C. 1961“Defects, uses, and abuses of national food supply and consumption data”Food Research Institute Studies2179201Google Scholar
- Gallo, A. E. (1980). “Consumer food waste in the United States.” National Food Review (Fall): 13–16.Google Scholar
- Gibson, R. S. 1990Principles of Nutritional AssessmentOxford University PressNew York, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Gordon, R. A. 1990Anorexia and Bulimia: Anatomy of a Social EpidemicBasil BlackwellCambridge, MassachusettsGoogle Scholar
- Gussow, J. D. 1999“Dietary guidelines for sustainability: Twelve years later”Journal of Nutrition Education31194200Google Scholar
- Information Ventures (2003). “Atrazine: Pesticide fact sheet prepared for the US Department of Agriculture Forest Services.” Information Ventures, Inc. Accessed on June 23, 2003 at http://infoventures.com/e-hlth/pestcide/atrazine.html.
- Kantor, L. S., Lipton, K., Manchester, A., Oliveria, V. 1997“Estimating and addressing America’s food losses”Food Review20212Google Scholar
- Kimbrell, A. eds. 2002Fatal Harvest: The Tragedy of Industrial AgricultureIsland PressWashington DCGoogle Scholar
- NASS (US National Agricultural Statistics Service) (2001). “Agricultural chemical usage: 2000 Field crops summary.” Washington DC: National Agricultural Statistics Service, US Department of Agriculture. Accessed on June 23, 2003 at http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/reports/nassr/other/pcu-bb/agcs0501.txt.
- NASS (US National Agricultural Statistics Service) (2002). “2000–2001 Statistical highlights of US agriculture: Field crops: Acreage, yield, production, price, value and stocks.” Washington DC: National Agricultural Statistics Service, US Department of Agriculture. Accessed on June 18, 2003 at http://www.usda.gov/nass/pubs/stathigh/2001/tables/crops_1.htm.
- NCHS (US National Center for Health Statistics) (2002). “Health E-Stats – Prevalence of overweight and obesity among adults: United States, 1999–2000.” Hyattsville, Maryland: National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed on January 8, 2003 at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/pubs/pubd/hestats/obese/obse99.htm.
- NIH (National Institutes of Health)1985“Health implications of obesity: National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Conference Statement”Annals of Internal Medicine10310731077Google Scholar
- Pennington, J. A. 1998Bowes and Church Food Values of Portions Commonly Used 7.Lippencott-Raven PublishersPhiladelphia, PennsylvaniaGoogle Scholar
- Pimentel, D.Pimentel, M. eds. 1996Food, Energy and Society, Revised EditionUniversity Press of ColoradoNiwot, ColoradoGoogle Scholar
- Pi-Sunyer, F. X. 1993“Medical hazards of obesity”Annals of Internal Medicine119655660Google Scholar
- Pollitt, E.Amante, P. eds. 1984Energy Intake and ActivityAlan R. Liss, Inc.New York, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Popkin, B. M., Doak, C. M. 1998“The obesity epidemic is a worldwide phenomenon”Nutrition Reviews56106114Google Scholar
- Popkin, B. M., Nielsen, J. J. 2003“The sweetening of the world’s diet”Obesity Research1113251332Google Scholar
- Poppendieck, J. 1986Breadlines Knee-Deep in Wheat: Food Assistance in the Great DepressionRutgers University PressNew Brunswick, New JerseyGoogle Scholar
- Pretty, J. N. 2002Agri-culture: Reconnecting People, Land, and NatureEarthscanLondon, United KingdomGoogle Scholar
- Putnam, J. J. 1999“US food supply providing more food and calories.”Food Review22212Accessed on July 14, 2003 at http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/foodreview/sep1999/frsept99a.pdf.Google Scholar
- Putnam, J. J. and J. E. Allshouse (1999). Food Consumption, Prices and Expenditures: 1970–1997. Food and Rural Economics Division, Economic Research Service, US Department of Agriculture Statistical Bulletin #965. Accessed on July 14, 2003 at http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/sb965/.
- Reibel, L. 2001“Consuming the earth: Eating disorders and ecopsychology”Journal of Humanistic Psychology413858Google Scholar
- Schmidt, C. 1993“On economization and ecologization as civilizing processes”Environmental Values23346Google Scholar
- Sobal, J. 1999
“Sociological analysis of the stigmatisation of obesity”Germov, J.Williams, L. eds. A Sociology of Food and Nutrition: Introducing the Social AppetiteOxford University PressMelbourne, Australia187204Google Scholar
- Sobal, J. 2001b
“Social and cultural influences on obesity”Bjorntorp, P. eds. International Textbook of ObesityJohn Wiley and SonsLondon, United Kingdom305322Google Scholar
- Sobal, J., Nelson, M. 2003
“Food waste”Katz, S. H. eds. Encyclopedia of Food and CultureCharles Schribner’s SonsNew York, New York2829Google Scholar
- Stock, M. J., Rothwell, N. J. 1987
“Criteria and experimental evidence for luxus consumption”Berry, E. M.Blondheim, S. H.Elihau, H. E.Schafrir, E. eds. Recent Advances in Obesity ResearchFood and Nutrition PressWestport, Connecticut 124130Google Scholar
- Subar, A. F., Kipnis, V., Troiano, R. P., Midthune, D., Schoeller, D. A., Bingham, S., Sharbaugh, S. O., Trablsi, J., Runswick, S., Ballard-Barbash, R., Sunshine, J., Schatzkin, A. 2003“Using intake biomarkers to evaluate the extent of dietary misreporting in a large sample of adults: The OPEN study”American Journal of Epidemiology158113CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Tippett, K. S., Cleveland, L. E. 1999
“How current diets stack up: Comparison with the Dietary Guidelines”Frazao, E. eds. America’s Eating Patterns: Changes and ConsequencesUS Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, Agriculture Information Bulletin No. 750Washington DC5171Google Scholar
- Troiano, R. P., Frongillo, E. A., Sobal, J., Levitsky, D. 1996“The relationship between body weight and mortality: A quantitative analysis of combined information from existing studies”International Journal of Obesity206375Google Scholar
- USDA (US Department of Agriculture) (1998). “Agriculture Fact Book 1996: Linking consumers and producers: What do Americans eat?” Washington DC: US Department of Agriculture. Accessed on June 23, 2003 at http://www.usda.gov/news/pubs/factbook/001a.pdf.
- USDA (US Department of Agriculture) (2003). “Agriculture Fact Book 2001–2002: Profiling food consumption in America.” Washington DC: US Department of Agriculture. Accessed on June 23, 2003 at http://www.usda.gov/factbook/2002factbook.pdf.
- Vinyl Council of Canada (2002). “Environmental profile: facts about the safety of incinerating vinyl wastes.” Mississauga, Ontario: Canadian Plastics Industry Association. Accessed on July 15, 2003 at http://www.plastics.ca/StaticContent/Static Pages/vcc/environment/vccd031.shtml.
- Wackernagel, M., Rees, W. 1996Our Ecological Footprint: Reducing Human Impact on the EarthNew Society PublishersGabriola Island, British ColumbiaGoogle Scholar
- Warshall, P. 2002
“Tilth and technology: The industrial redesign of our nation’s soils”Kimbrell, A. eds. The Fatal Harvest Reader: The Tragedy of Industrial AgicultureIsland PressWashington DC167180Google Scholar
- Wilkins, J. L. 1995“Seasonal and local diets: Consumer’s role in achieving a sustainable food system”Research in Rural Sociology and Development6149166Google Scholar
- Wolf, A. M., Colditz, G. A. 1998“Current estimates of the economic costs of obesity”Obesity Research697106Google Scholar
- Young, L. R., Nestle, M. 2002“Contribution of expanding portion sizes to the US obesity epidemic”American Journal of Public Health92246249Google Scholar