By Ian Randall For Mailonline
Published: 19:00 GMT, 12 February 2020 | Updated: 19:00 GMT, 12 February 2020
The average consumer throws away the equivalent of an entire McDonald's Big Mac in wasted food every day — and rich people are the worst offenders, a study found.
This research is the first to investigate how consumer wealth impacts food waste — and it suggests that households may be wasting twice as much food as was thought.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations estimated that, in 2005, a third of all food available for human consumption was wasted.
This figure has since endured as a reference for the extent of global food waste.
However, experts said, the UN calculation does not factor in consumer behaviour, instead considering food supply alone in determining the extent of food waste.
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The average consumer throws away the equivalent of an entire McDonald's Big Mac in wasted food every day — and rich people are the worst offenders, a study found
Economist Monika van den Bos Verma and colleagues from Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands set out to quantify the relationship between food waste and the affluence of consumers.
Using a human metabolism model and data from the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the World Bank and the World Health Organisation, they created an international dataset that provides estimates of both global and national food waste.
The researchers found that once consumer affluence reaches a daily spending threshold of around £5.17 ($6.70) per head, food waste starts to rise.
At first, waste levels increase rapidly above this threshold with rising wealth, but subsequently at much slower rates with higher levels of affluence.