Several hypotheses have been put forth as to the origins of the current obesity crisis in the United States. Presently, a shocking 66% of the US population is overweight or obese. If the current trajectory holds, many predict that the majority of Americans will be overweight within the next decade.

A group of us got together a few years ago to go through data in search of policy answers. To find measures to stop the spread of the disease, we combed through national research and public records.

There was a need to investigate the causes of the alarming rate of obesity in the United States. To what extent did difficulties in accessing nutritious food stem from so-called “food deserts” in one’s neighborhood? Is it really that expensive to eat healthily?

An Unpopular Answer to the Mystery of American Obesity

Can it be said that U.S. citizens don’t get enough exercise? Too much Coke in your diet? We learned along the road that many widely held beliefs about what’s driving the alarming rise in obesity rates aren’t borne up by the evidence.

Therefore, we concluded that everyone is growing heavier. Here you will find out an unpopular answer to the mystery of American obesity


An Unpopular Answer to the Mystery of American Obesity

Matthew Rees, in his review of Michael Moss’s “Hooked” (Books, March 12), which looks at the evolution of American eating habits and the rise of obesity over the past four decades, fails to mention the significant role that the dropping smoking rate has played in this trend. Average American weights went down throughout the 1970s.

From 1980-2000, when anti-smoking efforts were at their peak, Americans put on an average of 20 pounds. Smoking has been recognized to suppress appetite for ages. The cravings for sugary and fatty foods may be mitigated by nicotine.

Obesity rates rose naturally as smoking rates fell. Many Americans are heavier than they would have been if they had ever started smoking, but they never took up the habit in the first place.

The Mystery of American Obesity

The so-called riddle is as follows: despite increased exercise, the national obesity rate continues to rise. That can’t be, right? The solution is intuitively clear. My trainer has told me again and over, “It’s just arithmetic — the amount of calories expended and the number of calories ingested.”

Two-thirds of the nation’s counties have seen an increase in physical activity over the past decade, according to research just published in the online journal Population Health Metrics. They’ve also gained weight.

The percentage of California women who obtain the recommended amount of exercise each week has increased from 50.7% to 59.2% during the past decade. Men in California saw an increase from 59.4 percent to 61.3 percent.

Nonetheless, throughout this time period, obesity rates increased throughout the state of California. It’s possible to add a mile to one’s daily walk. That’s an extra 900 calories burned in a week.

The 920 calories in a single Big Mac meal with fries and a soda are a lot for someone who is trying to lose weight. All those extra kilometers can be made up for by eating out for lunch.

What Tips the Scales Toward Excess Weight?

Obesity is a complex disease with a wide range of potential origins and consequences. Obesity can be reduced to its simplest cause: consuming more calories than one burns. Any energy surplus is stored as fat by the body, leading to weight gain over time.

Losing weight happens when you consume less calories than your body uses up. This equation may seem straightforward, but it ignores the complex interplay between the foods we eat, the amount of exercise we get, and our bodies’ energy needs. One simple issue is surrounded by a tangled web of complications.

Genes Are Not Destiny

Obesity is somewhat genetic, although far less so than is commonly believed. Genes appear to enhance the likelihood of weight gain and combine with other environmental risk factors, such as bad diets and sedentary lifestyles, to contribute to obesity. These hereditary consequences can be mitigated by adopting a healthy lifestyle.


There’s as much doom in the numbers as you fear. Over 2 billion people are now overweight, with another 600 million being obese. Over 108 million people in the United States are currently dieting.

The figure is based on research published in The U.S. Weight Loss and Diet Control Market, which tracks the amount of money spent on diet-related goods and services.

In other words, it doesn’t take into account everyone who is making an effort to eat less or improve their health on their own. Hope now you know an unpopular answer to the mystery of American obesity.