Nutrition Research and Practice (Nutr Res Pract) 2011;5(3):253-259
Survey of American food trends and the growing obesity epidemic
Qin Shao1 and Khew-Voon Chin2,§
1Department of Mathematics, College of Arts and Sciences, University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio 43606, USA
2Department of Medicine, University of Toledo College of Medicine, 3000 Arlington Avenue, BHS 377, Toledo, Ohio 43614,
The rapid rise in the incidence of obesity has emerged as one of the most pressing global public health issues in recent years. The underlying
etiological causes of obesity, whether behavioral, environmental, genetic, or a combination of several of them, have not been completely elucidated.
The obesity epidemic has been attributed to the ready availability, abundance, and overconsumption of high-energy content food. We determined
here by Pearson’s correlation the relationship between food type consumption and rising obesity using the loss-adjusted food availability data from
the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Economic Research Services (ERS) as well as the obesity prevalence data from the Behavioral
Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) at the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC). Our analysis showed that total calorie intake and consumption of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) did not correlate with
rising obesity trends. Intake of other major food types, including chicken, dairy fats, salad and cooking oils, and cheese also did not correlate with
obesity trends. However, our results surprisingly revealed that consumption of corn products correlated with rising obesity and was independent
of gender and race/ethnicity among population dynamics in the U.S. Therefore, we were able to demonstrate a novel link between the consumption
of corn products and rising obesity trends that has not been previously attributed to the obesity epidemic. This correlation coincides with the introduction
of bioengineered corns into the human food chain, thus raising a new hypothesis that should be tested in molecular and animal models of obesity.
Key Words: Obesity, food trend, corn product, genetically modified, bioengineered
It is estimated that, worldwide, approximately 937 million
adults are overweight and 396 million are obese . This rising
trend continues unabated both globally and in the United States,
which claims the largest population of overweight and obese
adults [2,3]. Various etiologic factors associated with obesity
have been reported, including a number of genes identified from
genome-wide scans and functional genomic studies as well as
some viruses and bacteria [4-7]. The current prevailing hypothesis
centers on the premise that the problem of obesity is one of
energy imbalance, wherein total energy intake far exceeds energy
output . In addition, the global epidemic of obesity has been
attributed to heuristic observations of an increase in the
consumption of high-energy/high-fat content foods coupled with
a sedentary lifestyle that expends little energy.
The notion that particular nutrients or food sources might
influence obesity is controversial . For example, the increased
consumption of some food types, including beverages and foods
that contain high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), is speculated to
be associated with obesity [10,11]. Moreover, in a previous study,
mice given HFCS-sweetened water gained more weight and
showed increase adiposity . While the results of this animal
study seem to provide experimental evidence that supports the
hypothesis that consumption of HFCS causes obesity, the results
from epidemiological and clinical studies in human are
inconclusive [13,14], leaving the question of HFCS association
with obesity unanswered. Therefore, whether or not the intake
of certain food types predisposes an individual to increased risk
for obesity needs to be examined.
Quantifying the amount of food an individual consumes daily
is difficult, and determining the intake of specific food types
is intractable, thus posing significant challenges to the
investigation of food intake and the development of obesity. It
is known that the Loss-Adjusted Food Availability Data from
the Economic Research Services (ERS) of the United States
Department of Agriculture (USDA) constitute time series data
on the national food supply of several hundred food-types
targeted to the food marketing system. These data are represented
as per capita food availability and are useful for studying food
consumption trends, as they are an indirect measurement of actual
food intake .
This work was supported in part by a National Institutes of Health grant CA102204.
§Corresponding Author: Khew-Voon Chin, Tel. 1-419-383-3502, Fax. 1-419-383-4473, Email. email@example.com
Received: October 6, 2010, Revised: April 29, 2011, Accepted: May 3, 2011
ⓒ2011 The Korean Nutrition Society and the Korean Society of Community Nutrition
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/)
which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Qin Shao and Khew-Voon Chin
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