Candy, soda and fast food, which are often painted as the prime culprits in the national discussion of obesity, are not making Americans fat, according to a new study.
The Cornell University Food and Brand Lab study finds that intake of these foods is not related to Body Mass Index in the average adult.
Researchers Just and Wansink reviewed a nationally representative sample of adults in the United States and found that consumption of soda, candy and fast food is not linked to Body Mass Index (BMI) for 95 percent of the population.
The exception is those who are on the extreme ends of the BMI spectrum: those who are chronically underweight and those who are morbidly obese. Given that there was no significant difference in consumption of these indulgent foods between overweight and healthy weight individuals, the researchers concluded that the overwhelming majority of weight problems are not caused by consumption of soda, candy and fast food alone.
Dr. David Just explained that this means that diets and health campaigns aimed at reducing and preventing obesity may be off track if they hinge on demonizing specific foods.
He added “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.”
These findings suggest that clinicians and practitioners seeking to help individuals obtain a healthy weight should examine how overall consumption patterns, such as snacking, and physical activity influence weight instead of just eliminating “junk foods” from patient’s diets.
The study is published in Obesity Science & Practice.