The Energy Glut

The Politics of Fatness in an Overheating World

Ian Roberts and Phil Edwards


The Energy Glut tells the story of energy and how our abuse of fossil fuel energy links all of these public issues as manifestations of the same fundamental planetary malaise.
World-wide, over a billion adults are overweight and 300 million are officially 'obese', more than 3,000 people die every day on the world's roads and global warming and war threaten our survival as a species. The Energy Glut tells the story of energy and how our abuse of fossil fuel energy links all of these public issues as manifestations of the same fundamental planetary malaise.

This exciting new book argues that the pulse of fossil fuel energy released from the ground after the discovery of oil not only started the process of catastrophic climate change, but also propelled the average human weight distribution upwards. The author presents a frightening vision of humans besieged by a food industry that uses sophisticated marketing techniques to sell mountains of energy-dense food to those who are 'functionally paralysed', with fewer opportunities to move our bodies than ever before. We see why the accumulation of body fat is a political, not a personal, problem. This insightful new work offers and appraises for the reader a set of personal and political de-carbonising strategies, but to 'tread more lightly on our world' we first need to make sense of the systemic processes, and The Energy Glut takes expert first steps in this direction.

Author Bio

Ian Roberts is professor of public health at The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Britain's national school of public health and a leading postgraduate institution worldwide for research and education in global health. His main research interests are the prevention and treatment of serious injuries and in the links between energy use, sustainability and health. He first trained in the UK as a paediatrician working in intensive care and then in public health at the University of Auckland, New Zealand and McGill University in Canada. He now works on large scale international clinical trials to find better treatments for seriously injured patients.

Phil Edwards is a senior lecturer in statistics at The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Head of the Department of Nutrition & Public Health Intervention Research. He trained in mathematics and statistics at the University of Warwick and teaches statistics across the masters programme. His main research interests are in transport and health, in particular road traffic injury.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1. Fat individuals and fat populations
  • 2. Motorisation
  • 3. Food
  • 4. Money
  • 5. Contraction and convergence
  • 6. The era of the bicycle
  • 7. Reclaim the streets
  • 8. Reclaim your home
  • 9. A better world


'Ian Roberts presents a refreshingly novel and objective look at two of the biggest Public Health challenges of this century - obesity and climate change - and the inescapable link between them. No longer is obesity a "lifestyle condition" or a problem of greedy, sloth couch potatoes. It is an inevitable consequence of our globally oil-dependent society. Read on and you should be convinced enough to reclaim your life... and your planet.'
Sir Ian Gilmore, Royal College of Physicians

'In responding to climate change, the light from a constellation of medical professionals has been exemplary and shown clearly the way ahead for all of us. With his book The Energy Glut Professor Roberts reveals he is a truly bright star in that constellation.'
Aubrey Meyer, Global Commons Institute

'This book is quite something. An eminent Professor of Public Health turns his hand to forensics and pathology, clinically dissecting the fabric of what we so complacently call 'modern civilisation'. The insights derived from this autopsy - about the role of governments, big business and the 'petro-nutritional complex' - are devastating, making The Energy Glut a 'must-read' for anyone involved in public health, nutrition, the environment, transport and energy policy. You may not agree with all of the conclusions, but you will be hard put to ignore the analysis.'
Jonathan Porritt, Forum for the Future


Publication Date: 16 September 2010
192 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781848135185
Hardback: 9781848135178
eBook ePub: 9781848138704
eBook PDF: 9781848135192
eBook Kindle: 9781780326788

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