New Delhi: Climate change could kill over 130,000 people in India in 2050 because of changes in diet and bodyweight from reduced crop productivity, according to a study in the British medical journal The Lancet.

The changes could lead to nearly 529,000 extra deaths globally in 2050, as opposed to a future without climate change
in which adequate food availability and consumption could prevent 1.9 million deaths, it predicts.

Carried out by researchers from the University of Oxford, the study evaluates the impact of climate change on diet composition and bodyweight, and estimates the number of deaths caused by this in 155 nations in 2050.

“Changes in food availability and intake also affect dietary and weight-related risk factors such as low fruit and vegetable intake, high red meat consumption and high bodyweight. These all increase the incidence of non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, stroke and cancer, as well as death from those diseases," said Marco Springmann, a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Population Health, University of Oxford. Springmann is working on the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food.

The study says that if global emissions remain unchanged, the projected improvement in food availability could come down by about a third by 2050, and lead to average per person reductions in food availability of 3.2%, 4% in fruit and vegetable intake and 0.7% in red meat consumption.

Low- and middle-income nations are likely to be worst affected, predominantly in South-east Asia and the Western Pacific, with almost three-quarters of climate-related deaths predicted in China and India. On a per capita basis, Greece and Italy are expected to be badly affected.

The researchers used an agricultural economic model with data on emission trajectories, socioeconomic pathways and possible climate responses to evaluate the effects on global food production, trade and consumption for 2050.

They calculated the additional deaths linked to changes in diet and bodyweight under four climate-change scenarios, compared to a world without climate change.

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