Must be all that bacon hype.
A new study examining how human eating patterns have shifted over time found a rise in fat and meat consumption has pushed us further up the food chain and closer to predators like polar bears, with potentially adverse impacts on ecosystems, Scientific American reports.
Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday, the study measured the human trophic level — that is, where humans sit on the food chain — for 176 countries, each year from 1961 to 2009. It used data on 102 types of food listed by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. Sylvain Bonhommeau, a fisheries scientist who led the study, found the global median human trophic level jumped 3 percent over 50 years.
Researchers calculate human tropic levels to better understand our place in the ecosystem and the human impact on the environment. Experts said producing meat has a larger impact on the environment than producing vegetables.
The increase in meat consumption is being led in part by rapidly growing economies in China and India.
“If we all increase our trophic level, we’ll start to have a bigger impact on ecosystems,” Bonhommeau said.