Junk Food Not Behind Our Weight Problems, Study Says

Photo (cc) by Brian PDX

Junk food is not to blame for Americans’ weight problems after all, new research shows.

For 95 percent of adults studied, consumption of soda, candy and fast food was unrelated to body mass index (BMI), according to a study published in the peer-reviewed journal Obesity Science & Practice.

BMI is a measure of weight that also takes height into consideration. To find out what your BMI is, visit the National Institutes of Health’s BMI calculator.

For the study, David Just and Brian Wansink — the co-directors of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab — reviewed a nationally representative sample of adults in the United States.

They found no significant difference in how much junk food was consumed by people of healthy weights and people who were overweight. The only exceptions they found were for people with BMIs that were extremely low (meaning they are chronically underweight) or extremely high (meaning they are morbidly obese).

Just explains in a news release:

“This means that diets and health campaigns aimed at reducing and preventing obesity may be off track if they hinge on demonizing specific foods.

“If we want real change we need to look at the overall diet and physical activity. Narrowly targeting junk foods is not just ineffective, it may be self-defeating as it distracts from the real underlying causes of obesity.”

The researchers also found that, as of 2010, the average American consumes about 500 more calories per day than was consumed in 1970.

The researchers therefore recommend:

  • Don’t deprive yourself of your favorite foods because that can result in frustration and ultimately have little impact on overall weight.
  • Do monitor overall calorie consumption from meals and snacking.
  • Do be conscious of intake of added fats like salad dressing, cooking oils, cream, sour cream and things containing lots of flour, such as cereal, bread and baked goods, as these are the foods that Americans are eating more of.

What do you think is most to blame for obesity? Sound off in our Forums. It’s the place where you can speak your mind, explore topics in-depth, and post questions and get answers.

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