Previous research suggests that unless Americans adopt healthier eating habits, approximately 50% of the country will be obese in 10 years. In addition, approximately 25% will be severely obese. According to a new study, an increase in consumption of ultra-processed foods is one of the main mechanisms driving the rising rates of obesity.
Researchers from the George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences looked at food trends in the United States to determine why obesity rates are rising. They found that Americans are consuming increasingly more ultra-processed foods because they are cheaper and more convenient. However, they are also typically high in salt, sugar, fat, additives, and preservatives.
The foods identified as most associated with weight gain include potato chips, sugar sweetened beverages, sweets and desserts, refined grains, red meats, and processed meats. The rise in obesity was found to be correlated with a rise in metabolic syndrome and chronic diseases.
When the researchers looked at the diets of populations with low rates of obesity, they found that they tend to be high in fiber, low in red meat, and low in processed foods.
The study was published online ahead of print on November 30, 2019 in the journalCurrent Treatment Options in Gastroenterology.