Combating Obesity

While there are many causes for obesity, one simple fact cannot be ignored: We’re consuming more calories now than in previous years, and we’re expending less energy to burn those extra calories. Consider the numbers reported in the February 2013 Loss-Adjusted Food Availability Data by the USDA. Total caloric intake on a per capita basis for Americans increased from 2,064 calories per day in 1970 to 2,538 calories per day in 2010 – an additional 474 calories.[1]

Where are all these calories coming from?  Major contributors to this 474-calorie increase include 243 calories from added fats and 181 calories from flour and cereal products. Added sugars only account for 35 calories of the daily increase.


Average Daily Calories Consumed

Confusing scientific studies have misdirected blame on high fructose corn syrup as the major culprit in obesity and other health issues, like diabetes. The truth is the consumption of sweeteners, such as HFCS, has actually declined as obesity and diabetes rates have climbed.

Can’t I just replace HFCS with sugar?

  • Replacing high fructose corn syrup with sugar will not reduce obesity or improve health since nutritionally all caloric sweeteners are the same.
  • Obesity is largely due to excessive calorie intake and inactivity, not from a single ingredient in our food supply. 
  • All sweeteners trigger a similar insulin response in the body because they contain nearly equal amounts of fructose and glucose.

What You Can Do

So how can you battle the bulge? Live a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Namely:
  • By consuming appropriate food portions and exercising at least 30 minutes a day, you can attain and maintain a healthy weight as well as lower your risk of diabetes and other health problems.
  • You can achieve a nutritious diet by following the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and ChooseMyPlate, which include eating plenty of fruits, vegetables and grains along with moderate amounts of lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs and beans, low fat dairy products and healthy fats.

"It is tempting to blame HFCS for the increase in the prevalence of obesity in the US since the increased use of HFCS temporally coincides with the increase in the prevalence of obesity. It is important to emphasize that the simultaneous occurrence of two events does not necessarily mean that one caused the other. The prevalence of obesity and diabetes is increasing even more rapidly in parts of the world where HFCS is not used in any significant amounts."  - Arthur Frank, M.D., Medical Director of the George Washington University Weight Management Program

Hear from an expertKris Clark, Ph.D., R.D., F.A.C.S.M., Assistant Professor and Director of Sports Nutrition, The Pennsylvania State University, discusses popular diet myths to help women discern fact from fiction.


[1] U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. 2013. Calories: average daily per capita calories from the U.S. food supply, adjusted for spoilage and other waste. Loss-Adjusted Food Availability Data.