Poor Diet May Not Be Causing Obesity Increase

Obese Man on Bench

Overeating may not be the cause of increasing obesity rates in the US, study suggests.

As obesity rates rise in the United States, the blame has largely fallen on poor diet. However, a new study suggests that diet is not the culprit, but rather lack of exercise is to blame.

Besides genetics and other factors, the two major causes of obesity are a poor diet and lack of exercise. As obesity rates have risen in recent years, the blame has often fallen on poor diet. With busy schedules, families were picking up more fast food and gulping down over-sized sodas. These unhealthy diets have prompted laws to promote healthy foods, such as reducing fat and sugar and banning huge drinks. However, a new study suggests that poor diet habits may not be to blame for rising obesity.

A study in the American Journal of Medicine found that in the past twenty years, body mass index (BMI) has increased by 0.37 percent on average, especially in women between the ages of eighteen and thirty-nine. About thirty-five percent of American adults are now considered obese, compared to 20 and 25 percent of men and women respectively twenty years ago. The increase in American waistlines is not a new revelation, but this study went a step further by looking deeper into the cause of the obesity increase.

Surprisingly, Dr. Uri Ladabaum and his team at the Stanford University School of Medicine found that over the past twenty years, people were simply not taking in more calories. The researchers looked at overall calorie intake but did not look specifically at how much fat and sugar was taken in versus protein and nutrients. The researchers concluded that because it had not increased in the past twenty years, calorie intake alone could not be responsible for the obesity epidemic that is hitting the United States.

However, the statistics on physical activity were more telling. In 1994, eleven percent of men and nineteen percent of women reported no physical activity in their free time. However, By 2010, those numbers had risen to fourty-four percent of men and fifty-two percent of women, a significant increase. These physical activity statistics seemed to correlate with the rising obesity rates in the country.

The increase in abdominal fat specifically is concerning because it is correlated with an increase in mortality, even if someone has a BMI that is considered normal. In this study, the researchers found that there has been a yearly increase of about 2.7 percent in men’s and about 0.37 percent in women’s waistlines. A waist circumference over 40.16 inches in men and 34.65 inches in women is considered obese. Obesity is an increasing concern in the U.S. because it can contribute to health conditions such as heart disease and cancer.

If you are looking to lose weight, reducing calories, especially from sugars and fats, is still beneficial both for your weight and for your general health. However, adding more exercise to your lifestyle as well, at least thirty minutes a day, will set you on the right path to your weight loss goals.

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