Life before birth. Both overweight and underweight babies are more likely to grow up fat. So are those born to smokers. Evidence suggests pollution is also predisposing the unborn to obesity. The introduction and increase in the use of such chemicals coincides with the epidemic taking off.
Age of mothers. The chances of becoming obese increase with maternal age. And the average age of first giving birth has gone up by 2.6 years in Britain since 1970.
Less sleep. Both children and adults are more likely to get fat if they get too little sleep, partly because they become hungrier. Average daily sleep has fallen from nine to seven hours over recent decades.
Temperature. People burn up more calories when they are cold. Central heating has ensured that they spend most of their time in comfortable temperatures.
Prescription drugs. Some drugs – including anti-psychotics, antidepressants and treatments for diabetes – cause people to gain weight.
Stopping smoking. Though mothers who smoke may make their children fat, they – and all smokers – are themselves less likely to put on weight. As the habit has decreased, obesity has soared.
The Guardian: Forecast: dry, becoming drier
There's more than enough fresh water in the world to sate our thirst. The problem is getting it to where it is desperately needed
With the depressing and flooding at the weekend, water shortages are the last thing on our minds here in these wet, northern climes. In fact, perhaps we need a collective "sun dance" to implore the powers that be to deliver us an "Indian summer".
Despite the misery, we are fortunate, as more and more areas in the world are beset by water shortages. Over the past week alone, the in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, has fallen to dangerous levels (a across the subcontinent), Kyrgyzstan has to save water, and Californian farmers of lower yields due to water rationing.
The Middle East and North Africa, the driest population centre on the planet, is particularly vulnerable to water shortages. According to the International Water Management Institute, every country in the MENA region suffers from physical or is approaching it.
Yemen – fabled for the fertile of Arabia Felix – is expected to be the in the region to deplete its ground water.