A recent review of 72 studies on portion sizes confirmed that when served more than they need, people eat more than they should. And there is clear evidence that portion sizes are dramatically larger than those served in the 1980s.
In June, the FDA gave manufacturers three years to remove artificial trans fat from the food supply. This is an important step, but solving the problem of diet-related chronic diseases is much more complex than banning a single additive.
Everyone needs food, water, and shelter, yet society offers protective standards and regulations for just two of these three essentials. Food regulations focus on preventing illnesses like botulism, but when it comes to chronic diseases like obesity and diabetes, regulations offer little protection to U.S. consumers.
Thirty percent of all supermarket sales can be attributed to end-of-aisle displays, where retailers have placed more foods that increase the risk of obesity and chronic diseases. Relocating those foods to less conspicuous places would still allow those who want them to get them, but the decision to buy would be deliberate rather than impulsive.
Many will vow to lose weight in the coming year, but most will inevitably fail, not from lack of motivation or knowledge but from insuperable forces undermining their best intentions. America should resolve to address obesity where it begins: the point of purchase.
The FDA's new guidelines for calorie labeling on restaurant menus, retail establishments like convenience stores and movie theaters, and vending machines are a long-due recognition that eating away from home can be hazardous to health. But the new mandate falls far short of providing the necessary fix.
With its Global Food Initiative, the University of California is seeking ways to help the billion people who go to bed hungry each night. At the same time, UC could also be addressing obesity. Experimenting with changes to the food environment and documenting their impact on diet and weight gain would accelerate progress on this national problem not just for students, but for all Americans.
There's little rigorous evidence to support the notion that 'food deserts' are driving the U.S. obesity epidemic. But this narrative has nearly become conventional wisdom. In response, stakeholders have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into bringing supermarkets to these neighborhoods.
The problem of obesity cannot be attributed to a single dietary or physiological factor, like too much sugar, too much fat, or even factors like viruses, bacteria, and endocrine disrupters. The real problem is that Americans now live in a food swamp and there is just too much food easily available.
As hard as it can be to make time for exercise, failing to do so isn't a time-saver. It might seem so for a day or two, but you will feel the result of not exercising in the reductions in your energy, ability to focus and cope, and in your quality of sleep.
Framing positive health behaviors as good or virtuous and less effective or harmful ones as bad trips most people up on a regular basis. People would do well to think of positive health behaviors—such as getting a good night's sleep or eating healthy foods—as doing what works, rather than as being virtuous.
It is worth making changes in your everyday choices and actions in order to improve your health. Real benefits in terms of increases in energy, improved sleep, and reduced cardiovascular disease risk are attainable.
To help people avoid overeating, the kinds of policies effective in controlling alcohol consumption should be applied to food — standardizing portion sizes, limiting impulse marketing and reducing the convenience and salience of foods most closely associated with obesity and chronic diseases.
Given the high prevalence of obesity and chronic diseases and their enormous societal burden, every restaurant, including fast food outlets, should offer healthier meal options and discourage over-consumption.
Ideally, restaurant food should be tailored and sold the way clothing is, so people can get the exact amount that is appropriate for their bodies. Such sizing options should be required in all dining establishments to give people the option of consuming meals that fit.
To identify the policies that will make a big fat dent in obesity rates, we first need an accurate diagnosis: Americans are overweight and obese because they are inundated with too much food. The use of impulse marketing strategies has skyrocketed, with invitations to indulge at every turn.
Perhaps the most common New Year's resolution is improving our eating habits. According to Dr. Deborah Cohen, who hosted an “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit yesterday, that's much easier said than done.
Just as we needed policies to protect people from having alcohol thrust in their faces everywhere they went, we need to develop and implement policies that protect people from food cues and triggers designed to make them eat when they're not hungry and over-consume.
The obesity epidemic is among the most critical health issues facing the United States. Although it has generated a lot of attention and calls for solutions, it also has served up a super-sized portion of myths and misunderstandings.
During the holiday season, a time when overindulgence is a tradition for many, food marketing creates especially serious challenges for people trying to limit their intake and make careful decisions about healthier eating.
The holiday season is a time when people try to do too much. And that often leads to stress and worry, which can be the enemies of a good night's sleep. Here are a few tricks to help manage the episodic bouts of insomnia that are common during the holidays.
Most people lack the information they need to judge or track the quantity and quality of the nutrients they consume. The FDA should take a disease prevention approach — as it is currently doing with trans fat — in promoting standards that address how all foods are prepared and served away from home.
The American Medical Association officially designated obesity as a disease, hoping to help change the way doctors approach the issue with their patients, increase funding for research on effective treatments, spur insurers to cover prescription weight loss medications, and maybe even help de-stigmatize the condition.
Colleges should acknowledge their responsibility not to put their students at risk for weight gain, obesity and the host of chronic diseases related to poor diets, writes Deborah Cohen. Students have to make their own food choices, but it's colleges who're setting the table.
A combination of things might well slow the obesity epidemic while also improving the American people's overall nutritional well-being: lowering prices on healthier food, initiatives to control portion sizes, and a long-term campaign to support better food quality.
New York should see the judge's ruling as an opportunity to revise the law to close the loopholes, including the Big Gulp exemption, and develop regulations in line with the scientific consensus that even 16 ounces is way too much, writes Deborah Cohen.
In an era of budget constraints, policymakers confronting the U.S. obesity crisis need strong evidence from projects like PHRESH to inform decisions about where and how to invest, writes Tamara Dubowitz.
Although placement is a factor that is right in front of our noses, we should consider treating it as a hidden risk factor, like carcinogens in water, because placement influences our food choices in a way that is largely automatic and out of our conscious control, write Deborah A. Cohen and Susan H. Babey.
Much of the talk has focused on how New York City's ban on sugary drinks, intended to curb obesity by improving dietary choices for consumers, will restrict individuals’ options. Of course, even after the ban, consumers can still buy a second soda. But they might want to take a moment to think about the consequences before doing so, writes Chloe Bird.
It is time we treated food with the same respect we hold for the power of alcohol. It's time to develop and implement regulations that will help us moderate our diets and stem the obesity epidemic, write Deborah Cohen and Lila Rabinovich.
We will be more successful at stemming the growing tide of obesity and improving our own health if everyone accepts their share of responsibility for the obesity epidemic, write Chloe E. Bird and Tamara Dubowitz.
Regulations requiring the restaurant industry to serve standardized portion sizes should be mandated and enforced by the same authorities responsible for checking hygienic conditions in food outlets, writes Deborah Cohen.
Is eating more fruits and vegetables the key to reducing obesity? Evidence suggests this may not be the most effective strategy. A recent RAND study of more than 2,700 adults found that calorie intake from cookies, candy, salty snacks, and soda was about twice as high as the recommended daily amount.