Too much food driving obesity epidemic

Too much energy-dense food is driving the obesity epidemic in high income countries like New Zealand, say the authors of a new global study.

Credit: Flickr / Henry Faber
Credit: Flickr / Henry Faber

In a study published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization, lead author Dr Stefanie Vandevijvere from the School of Population Health at the University of Auckland analysed increases in the food energy supply and obesity in 69 countries.

The researchers found that in many countries the increase in available energy from food could more than account for the growing waistlines of citizens.

“Our study shows that oversupply of calories is a likely driver of overconsumption of those calories and can readily explain the weight gain seen in most countries,” says Dr Vandevijvere in a media release.

“Overeating to gain weight is not usually a conscious individual decision and many things in the food environment influence our diet. One of these is likely to be the sheer quantity of palatable food that is available in the food supply,” she explains. “It creates a kind of ‘push effect’ on our diet and we tend to subconsciously overeat on the calories and gain weight.”

The results have been reported both in New Zealand and overseas:

TVNZ News: Over-filled tummies are driving obesity, Kiwi study confirms
3 News: Processed food making Kiwis obese
New Zealand Herald: What is making Kiwis fatter? Global food restrictions needed to fight obesity, says study
NZ City news: Over-filled tummies are driving obesity
Telegraph: Britain’s obesity epidemic fuelled by sheer abundance of food