Obesity, ill health and global warming are linked.
The risks to health of climate change have been well articulated but have not been accompanied by clear policy and effective action.
Four areas where doctors can and should act, and where changes will benefit both the environment and human health in the short-to-medium term are:
reduction in the adverse environmental impact of the health care industry;
development of a nationwide comprehensive food and nutrition policy that takes account of the entire food production cycle;
urban redesign to encourage active transport; and
more support for sexual and reproductive health services in developing countries.
Finally, climate change policies should be assessed for their impact on global health and equity.
- 1. McMichael AJ, Friel S, Nyong A, Corvalan C. Global environmental change and health: impacts, inequalities, and the health sector. BMJ 2008; 336: 191-194.
- 2. Edwards P, Roberts I. Population adiposity and climate change. Int J Epidemiol 2009; 38: 1137-1140.
- 3. Mendez M, Monteiro C, Popkin B. Overweight exceeds underweight among women in most developing countries. Am J Clin Nutr 2005; 81: 714-721.
- 4. Leon DA. Cities, urbanization and health. Int J Epidemiol 2008; 37: 4-8.
- 5. Costello A, Abbas M, Allen A, et al. Managing the health effects of climate change. Lancet 2009; 373: 1693-1733.
- 6. Sexual and reproductive health and climate change [editorial]. Lancet 2009; 374: 949.
- 7. Anderson G, Frogner B, Reinhardt U. Health spending in OECD countries in 2004: an update. Health Affairs 2007; 26: 1481-1489.
- 8. Paez KA, Zhao L, Hwang W. Rising out-of-pocket spending for chronic conditions: a ten-year trend. Health Affairs 2009; 28: 15-25.
- 9. National Health Service (UK). Saving carbon, improving health: NHS carbon reduction strategy for England. Cambridge: NHS Sustainable Development Unit, 2009.
- 10. Practice Greenhealth. Energy impact calculator. http://www.practicegreenhealth.org/tools/eic (accessed Mar 2010).
- 11. World Health Organization, Health Care Without Harm. Healthy hospitals, healthy planet, healthy people: addressing climate change in health care settings. http://www.noharm.org/lib/downloads/energy/Healthy_Hosp_Planet_Peop.pdf (accessed Mar 2010).
- 12. Yeatman H. Window of opportunity — positioning food and nutrition policy within a sustainability agenda. Aust N Z J Public Health 2008; 32: 107-109.
- 13. Rissel C. Active travel: a climate change mitigation strategy with co-benefits for health. N S W Public Health Bull 2009; 20 (1-2): 10-13. http://www.publish.csiro.au/?act=view_file&file_id=NB08043.pdf (accessed Mar 2010).
- 14. Climate and Health Council (UK). What’s good for the climate is good for health. http://www.climateandhealth.org/pdf/whats-good-for-the-climate-is-good-for-health.pdf (accessed Mar 2010).
- 15. Bryant L, Carver L, Butler C, Anage A. Climate change and family planning: least-developed countries define the agenda. Bull World Health Organ 2009; 87: 852-857. http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/87/11/08-062562.pdf (accessed Mar 2010).
- 16. Wire T. Fewer emitters, lower emissions, less cost: reducing carbon emissions by investing in family planning. London: London School of Economics and Political Science, 2009. http://www.optimumpopulation.org/reducingemissions.pdf (accessed Mar 2010).
- 17. Wolfson M, Kaplan GA, Lynch JW, et al. Relation between income inequality and mortality: empirical demonstration. BMJ 1999; 319: 953-957.
- 18. Weston D. Policy on global warming: fiddling while the globe burns? Aust N Z J Public Health 2009; 33: 307-311.
- 19. Stern N. Stern review on the economics of climate change. London: HM Treasury, 2006. http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/sternreview_index.htm (accessed Mar 2010).
- 20. Lim V, Stubbs J, Nahar N, et al. Politicians must heed health effects of climate change [letter]. Lancet 2009; 374: 973.
Publication of your online response is subject to the Medical Journal of Australia's editorial discretion. You will be notified by email within five working days should your response be accepted.