In the U.S., 36 percent of adults and 17 percent of kids and teenagers are clinically obese, a report issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows. Yet, scientists often scratch their heads over the true cause of the American obesity epidemic.
In the past, many nutritionists put the blame on the fats in foods, but recently even the official guidelines ditched the severe restrictions on dietary fats since people can become deprived of essential nutrients while trying to avoid high-fat products.
Past studies also found a link between junk food, which includes sugary drinks, fast food, and sweets, and obesity. Researchers argued that the high-calorie foods that lack nutritional value are to blame for weight gain in the developed world.
But a recent study challenges that view and puts it in a different perspective. A group of scientists working at Cornell University Food and Brand Lab found that junk food is not the only type of food that fuels obesity.
Cornell researchers sifted through data on nearly 5,000 adult Americans that were monitored between 2007 and 2008. Study participants were surveyed on their weight, height, and diet. Additionally, researchers used a different statistical method of assessing weight gain risk: they didn’t take into account the clinically underweight and the severely obese.
After the team eliminated these extremes, they couldn’t find a direct link between junk food and high body mass index. David Just, lead author of the study, said that he wouldn’t have expected those results. Nevertheless, the study did find that Americans consume most extra calories from junk food.
But if fast food, sodas and sweets do not makes us obese, what does? The Cornell team believes that Americans eat too many calories from all food sources. The team cited a USDA report which revealed that U.S. residents consume an extra intake of 500 calories per day than they did nearly 50 years ago, when obesity didn’t have epidemic proportions.
On the other hand, researchers do not recommend eating junk food as much as one’s heart desires since if you eat more of those high-calorie foods it is clear that you will gain weight.
The team does recommend, however, not demonizing junk food as the only cause of obesity in the U.S. Instead, people should practice moderation and control their portions in all foods not just junk food, study authors said.
Image Source: Pixabay
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