Your Choices Affect Your Health


What Causes Obesity?

A century ago obesity was a rare condition. Obesity rates have more than tripled in the last 50 years. Much of the variation in how easily we gain weight is coded in genes and passed down through families. The global epidemic of obesity has grown too rapidly in recent years for variations in genetics to be the cause. The food industry has helped promote the message that inactivity, rather than high consumption of manufactured, calorie-rich, nutrient-poor foods, is the cause of obesity. Calorie over consumption is proven to be more important than physical activity in weight maintenance and loss. In fact, the level of physical activity over the last few decades has actually been increasing. The increase in calories per person has risen by about 350 calories per day in children and about 500 calories per day in adults in the last 50 years. To burn off just these additional calories, we’d have to walk two hours a day, seven days a week. Studies show that exercise, despite all its benefits, cannot compensate for poor eating habits when it comes to weight loss. The bulk of these extra calories are coming from meat, eggs, dairy products, and added fats. We consume 60 more pounds of meat per person each year and 30 more pounds of cheese per person per year than we did a century ago. We’re eating meat and dairy products in quantities that our grandparents would have never imagined. Meat and dairy are the primary cause of the obesity epidemic, and setting them aside will help solve it.

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