Experts: Cut CO2, calories to save our lives, planet


More than 3 billion pounds could be lost if Americans walked 30 minutes a day.

WASHINGTON (AP) — America’s obesity epidemic and global warming might not seem to have much in common. But public health experts suggest people can attack them both by cutting calories and carbon dioxide at the same time.

How? Get out of your car and walk or bike half an hour a day instead of driving. And while you’re at it, eat less red meat. That’s how Americans can simultaneously save the planet and their health, say doctors and climate scientists.

The payoffs are huge, although unlikely to happen. One numbers-crunching scientist calculates that if all Americans between 10 and 74 walked just half an hour a day instead of driving, they would cut the annual U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas, by 64 million tons.

About 6.5 billion gallons of gasoline would be saved. And Americans would also shed more than 3 billion pounds overall, according to these calculations.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is considering public promotion of the “co-benefits” of fighting global warming and obesity-related illnesses through everyday exercise, like walking to school or work, said Dr. Howard Frumkin, director of the CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health.

“A simple intervention like walking to school is a climate change intervention, an obesity intervention, a diabetes intervention, a safety intervention,” Frumkin told The Associated Press. “That’s the sweet spot.”

Climate change is a deadly and worsening public health issue, said Frumkin and other experts. The World Health Organization estimated that 160,000 people died in 2000 from malaria, diarrhea, malnutrition and drownings from floods — problems that public health and climate scientists contend were worsened by global warming. Officials predict that in the future those numbers will be higher.

The American Public Health Association, which will highlight the health problems of global warming in April, is seeking to connect obesity and climate change solutions, said executive director Dr. Georges Benjamin.

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