Harvard Nutrition Expert Walter Willet blames much of America’s obesity epidemic on the ultra competitive food industry, and specifically the food researchers who have mastered the taste, packaging and marketing of processed, unhealthy and inexpensive foods.
Eating and dietary habits are often established early in life. Knowing this information, food marketing executives have created advertising campaigns aimed at the most impressionable and susceptible population – children.
Willett and other nutrition experts point to a “perfect storm” of reasons that contribute to 17% of children being obese, and 5% now classified as “severely obese”. Experts attribute easy access to unhealthy foods, failure of personal willpower, an unhealthy food environment, changing eating habits, and watching television while eating as the major contributors to the obesity epidemic.
The amount of television and computer usage appears to have a direct correlation with obesity; the more time spent in front of the computer and television the fatter children get.
Of particular interest, although obesity rates have risen dramatically over the last 30 years, experts were quick to point out that sedentary lifestyle and genetics have little influence on obesity. As evidence, people are just as active as they were 30 years ago; experts placed the blame squarely on the change in foods Americans eat.
Larger portion sizes, increased consumption of carbohydrates, energy drinks, sugar and salt have all contributed to drastic weight gains. Experts recommend a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains and nuts.
According to Dariush Mozaffarian, associate professor of epidemiology at HSPH, ““We focus a lot on what not to eat; we need to focus on what’s good to eat.”
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