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Better eating habits, not bad economy, stabilized obesity rates
Date:1/23/2014

All those people who've been telling us for years that we should eat more healthy foods and cut our calories stop, take a moment, and celebrate.

It appears that we actually listened.

A new, extensive study from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Gillings School of Global Public Health says that it wasn't the Great Recession or any economic downturn that created a leveling of U.S. obesity rates (with some declines in certain subpopulations), as other scholars have suggested. Rather, the leveling and decline started well before that in good economic times and has continued. The reason is not economics as much as it is likely a result of more information and efforts aimed at producing healthier food choices and eating habits.

The study, titled "Turning point for US diets? Recessionary effects or behavioral shifts in foods purchased and consumed" was recently posted at the online site of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

"We found U.S. consumers changed their eating and food purchasing habits significantly beginning in 2003, when the economy was robust, and continued these habits to the present," said Shu Wen Ng, assistant professor of nutrition at UNC's Gillings School of Global Public Health and the study's first author.

"These changes in food habits persist independent of economic conditions linked with the Great Recession or food prices," Ng said. "The calorie consumption was declining at a rate of about 34 calories less per year among children aged 2-18 between 2003 and 2010 (vs. only 14 kcal/day among adults decline per year). The declines in food purchases after adjusting for all the economic changes was also at a rate of 34 kcal/capita per year among households with children between 2000 and 2011."

Ng adds that this dramatic turn in dietary behavior is more likel
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Contact: Thania Benios
thania_benios@unc.edu
919-962-8596
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Source:Eurekalert

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