Americans consume less fast food but still not off the hook on the obesity epidemic


The good news is that people in America are eating fewer calories but the bad news is that it isn’t translating into lower obesity rates.

Americans, by federal studies, are said to be putting less calories in their bodies than they did a decade ago and are lessening consumption of junk and fast food. But the question arises: with Americans veering away from greasy fast food, why are the obesity statistics still not lowering down?

From gathered data from CDC or United States’ Center for Disease Control and Prevention, between the years 2007 to 2012, a percentage of eleven calories daily are from fast food compared to a reported percentage of thirteen between the years 2003 to 2006. Studies show that eating fast food like burgers and fries decreases when age increases. Adults sixty years old and above eat least of this kind of food. Non-Hispanic black adults (but younger adults) are reported to munch the most on fast food with more than a percentage of 20 of their daily calories coming from McDonald’s, Burger King and other popular or obscure fast food chains.

Individuals with the most calories coming from fast food also weighed the most according to a clinical nutritionist from the New York University Center for Musculoskeletal Care. Samantha Heller told HealthDay that the good news about the research is that they found out that maybe because that when we get older, we become more smarter about our decisions on food intake, thus lessening consumption of unhealthy, grease-filled junk food.

“However, a take-home message is that the study suggests that the more fast food you eat, the fatter you get,” Heller stated.

Another study was made by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They observed kids in America from the tender age of two to the last year of being teenagers, nineteen, and saw that boys were consuming less calories than girls, dropping from an average of 2,258 calories daily in years 1999 to 2000 to approximately 2,100 calories in 2009-2010. It also applied to girls, though, where girls consumed 76 fewer calories on average at the same period of time. Most of the decreasing of calorie intake came in the form of carbohydrates. Boys and girls still eat the same amount of fats while adding up the protein they put in their bodies.

But with people in America eating less fast food in general, why is obesity still on an all-time high? A professor of nutrition, food studies and public health from NYU, Marion Nestle, told the New York Times that “to reverse the current prevalence of obesity, these numbers have to be a lot bigger. But they are trending in the right direction, and that’s good news.” According to CDC researcher Cynthia L. Ogden, who was the one who oversaw the research said that it may depend on how one sees the data. “The rate of obesity has been flat recently in both children and in adults and some studies have come out recently that have found a decrease in obesity or childhood obesity in some cities. Still, a third of U.S. adults are obese and 17% of children are obese, but given this relative stability, I think that these two studies show very interesting results,” Ogden stated.

“I think that these findings are a great start. I am happy to see there is a slight decrease. It still shows that for as much effort that has been put into messaging and positive nutrition promotion, we still have a lot of work to do. There are a lot of people who still need to be touched,”  Laura Jeffers, a registered dietitian at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, said. Jeffers theorized that even if people in America are eating less fast food, they may be getting the unhealthy calories somewhere else. “I think that overall, people are not consuming the majority of their meals at fast food. Even-though maybe fast food has decreased, the majority of calorie consumption is not from the fast food restaurants. Looking at portion sizes and what people are getting into the home and the nutrition and health from those foods, should be another focus as to why the obesity rate is continuing to climb,” she says.

Though consuming less (especially unhealthy fast food) is a good way to start fighting obesity, it may also be a bigger help if people in America add more exercise to their daily activities.


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