Consumers Filling Up With Empty Calories

Jun 03, 2004
George Anderson

By George Anderson

A study that asked 4,760 adults in the U.S. to keep track of what they ate over a 24-hour period has eliminated any mystery into the what is behind the nation’s obesity epidemic for the leader of the research, reports Reuters.

Gladys Block, a professor of epidemiology and public health nutrition at the University of California, Berkeley, said the study found nearly 25 percent of calories consumed in the average American’s diet comes from sweets, desserts, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages. Another five percent come from salty snacks and fruit-flavored drinks.

“We know people are eating a lot of junk food, but to have almost one-third of Americans’ calories coming from those categories is a shocker. It’s no wonder there’s an obesity epidemic in this country,” said Ms. Block.

Writing in the June issue of the Journal of Food Chemistry, Ms. Block contrasts the number of empty junk food calories to those coming from nutritious sources such as fruits and vegetables. Only 10 percent of the calories consumed by respondents were from these sources.

The moral behind this story is clear, says Ms. Block. “We shouldn’t be telling people to eat less — we should be telling people to eat differently.”

Moderator’s Comment: What is your reaction to the study’s findings? Does it alter your view on whether there need
to be restraints placed on the marketing of certain types of foods and beverages? Is government intervention needed?

It’s little wonder that there are so many obese kids. If the adults in their lives are getting one-third of their calories from junk food, what can the
kids be eating?

Gladys Block rightly points out that the inevitable conclusion to junk food diets is, “You can actually be obese and still be undernourished with regard
to important nutrients.”

George Anderson – Moderator

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1 Comment on "Consumers Filling Up With Empty Calories"

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Michael P. Schall
Michael P. Schall
16 years 9 months ago

Can you imagine going into your favorite restaurant and paying a “premium” (read:tax) for higher fat-content foods, getting a discount for the number of vegetable side dishes ordered, or even receiving a citation for “excessive caloric intake in a food zone.” I hate to say it, but here we are again with the need to take responsibility for our actions before the government does it for us. In part, this is a responsibility of the manufacturers and marketers of what we eat and how this personally affects those that are in touch with consumers. How many obese Fortune 500 CEO’s have you noticed?