• Biology;
  • carbon trading;
  • ecology;
  • economic growth;
  • environment;
  • inflammation


Obesity and climate change are two problems currently challenging humanity. Although apparently unrelated, an epidemiological approach to both shows a similar environmental aetiology, based in modern human lifestyles and their driving economic forces. One way of analysing this is through inflammation (defined as ‘. . . a disturbance of function following insult or injury’) of both the internal (biological) and external (ecological) environments. Chronic, low-grade, systemic inflammation has recently been shown to accompany obesity, as well as a range of biological pathologies associated with obesity (diabetes, heart disease, some cancers, etc.). This is influenced by the body's inability to soak up excess glucose as a result of insulin resistance. In a broader sense, inflammation is a metaphor for ecological ‘pathologies’, manifest particularly in unnatural disturbances like climate change, ocean acidity, rising temperatures and species extinction, associated with the inability of the world's environmental ‘sinks’ to soak up carbon dioxide (‘carbon resistance’?). The use of such a metaphorical analysis opens the possibilities for dealing with two interdisciplinary problems simultaneously. Strategies for managing climate change, including personal carbon trading, could provide a ‘stealth intervention’ for reducing population levels of obesity by increasing personal energy expenditure and decreasing energy-dense food intake, as well as reducing the carbon emissions causing climate change.