BEACON TRANSCRIPT – Junk food isn’t to blame for obesity? Well, it’s not the leading cause of obesity, a new study conducted at Cornell suggests. The research, carried out at the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab, was published in the Obesity Science & Practice journal and shows that lack of exercise and excessive eating are rather to blame for obesity.
As study co-author David Just explains, it’s not automatically implied that the things that can make us gain weight are necessarily causing us to get fat. Although form a nutritional point of view a fast food based diet is not advisable, the research concluded that the junk food intake is not always directly related to a person’s body mass index or BMI.
Also, while fast food already has a bad reputation due to its ill effects on people’s health, Just explains that focusing on a junk food diet as the only villain in the obesity crisis could actually be detrimental to people’s efforts of dealing with the disease, as it could lead people to disregard the real underlying causes of the problem.
David Just has reasons for being against isolating junk food as the only culprit for obesity. The study he has conducted actually shows that the intake of fast food, sodas and candy was not directly relevant to the BMI of 95 percent of U.S. adults. Along with his colleague Brian Wansink, Just analyzed more than 5000 cases and found that junk food only influenced the BMI in extreme cases: people who are either morbidly obese or chronically underweight.
The researchers went through 5000 case files collected in a 2007-2008 survey run by the CDC called the National Household and Nutrition Examination Survey. They found that, rather than junk food, more likely culprits for obesity are factors like lack of exercise and faulty eating habits.
This doesn’t mean that living on a diet of cheeseburgers and candy bars is good for you. Nutritionist Samantha Heller, as well as the authors of the study, warn that the research’s findings shouldn’t be misinterpreted as proof that fast food consumption is harmless.
In fact Heller points out that, more often than not, people that are struggling with obesity have diets that contain high amounts of fast food items, soft drinks and candy. Several studies have already proven that junk food can create health problems like diabetes or heart disease. But Just and Wansink have found that, although calorie-dense food is bad for people, it is not the main cause of obesity in the U.S. and that our efforts of fighting against the condition should not be directed towards a faulty diet alone, but rather focus on exercise and bad habits as well.
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