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Obesity Rate Rises, Cornell Researchers Question Why

The obesity rate rises again. Well over one-third of adult Americans are obese. But a new Cornell study questions, is junk food really the cause?

Unhealthy foods don't necessarily lead to unhealthy adults -- in moderation.

Obesity continues to be a growing problem in the United States as the obesity rate continues to climb.

Obesity Rate Rises

As Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data released this month show, the rate of obesity in adults as topped 36 percent and 17 percent in youth.

This is up from 35.7 percent in 2009 and 2010, which rose steadily from 34.3 percent in 2005 and 2006.

The prevalence of obesity is greater in adult women than men (38.3 percent and 34.3 percent, respectively). There were no considerable differences between male and female youth.

The CDC report didn’t attempt to uncover the reasons why obesity continues to climb — but another recent study at Cornell University did.

Calories, Candy And Correlation

Professors Brian Wansink and David Just studied fast food consumption and compared it to body mass index (BMI).

They used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and excluded those on the high ends of either spectrum — the very underweight and very morbidly obese.

They found that the frequency of consumption of candy, soda and fast food had no correlation on BMI.

Instead they concluded that increased calorie consumption was more to blame for Americans’ growing waistlines.

Pointing to the USDA’s Economic Research Service data, they found that compared to 1970, Americans have been consuming on average 500 more calories a day. Most of those calories come in the form of added fats and flour.

Wansink and Just argue that cutting out junk food altogether isn’t the answer, but instead enjoying it — like anything else — in moderation.

Read More:

  • Obesity is still a growing problem for American adults, CDC says (Los Angeles Times)
  • Cornell Study Finds Common Food Culprits to Correlate Little With Obesity (The Cornell Daily Sun)
  • Are Junk Food Habits Driving Obesity? A Tale Of Two Studies (NPR)
Liz Leslie

Liz Leslie is a journalist based in Chicago. When she's not writing about food, she's likely eating food. Or dreaming about food.

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