Posted by: Chris Maloney | August 3, 2015

Is Obesity In the U.S. Declining?

It has if you read the Times. According to the New York Times, U.S. caloric intake peaked in 2003 and has declined since. Our youngest citizens have experienced a 9% drop in calories. The children’s weight has declined slightly, while obesity rates have stopped rising for U.S. adults. Among the notable changes in the U.S. diet is a drop in full calorie soda of 25% since the late 1990s.

When I looked at the JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) research the NY Times article was based on, the reality is a little more complex. While obesity rates for two to five-year-olds from 13.9% down to 8.4%, obesity rates rose for women older than women over sixty (from 31.5% to 38.1%). The JAMA article concluded: “Overall, there have been no significant changes in obesity prevalence in youth or adults between 2003-2004 and 2011-2012.”

But clearly caloric intake has declined, and soda intake has declined dramatically. So how are we to credit the fact that, as a nation, the U.S. is dieting but not losing weight? Could it be, as I have often wondered, a more complex issue than calories alone? Low-income U.S. citizens consume fewer calories than upper-income U.S. citizens, but far fewer fruits and vegetables. But low-income U.S. citizens are more obese that upper-income U.S. citizens. The issue is far worse for minorities. The study on fruits and vegetables found that a 10% subsidy on fruits and vegetables would impact the intake of fruits and vegetables for lower-income citizens. We’ve known for decades that high fruit and vegetable intake is linked to lower rates of cancer almost across the board. Obesity is also linked to an increase in cancer, and caloric restriction alone has not lowered obesity rates. Now that we’ve dieted as a nation, perhaps it’s time for us to start eating more healthy foods. Image result for cancer images


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