Restaurants, Wholesalers May Be Contributing to Obesity Epidemic

Researchers have found connections that suggest a population's growing rate of obesity could be connected to the proliferation of wholesalers and restaurants in that region.

There have been a multitude of theories, health research, and data that have all sought to explain what's driving the obesity epidemic. Olga Khazan from The Atlantic writes on a recent economic trend that could be contributing to growing waistlines. She writes in her article that back in 1990, no state had an obesity prevalence of 15 percent or more. Compare that to a 2010 report that showed no state was recorded to have an obesity prevalence under 20 percent. However, researchers think they've found a link between a population's increasing BMI with more restaurants and wholesalers moving in.

It's uncertain if its connection to obesity is a result of restaurants and wholesalers moving in or if these businesses tend to settle in areas because the populations show they like to eat and they like to eat cheap. The researchers admit in their paper that these economic connections demand more study. However, the data they've compiled does seem to suggest that the proliferation of cheap and easily accessible food is a contributing factor to Americans' growing waistlines. They write:

“Controlling for demographic characteristics and state and year fixed effects, changes in these economic variables collectively explain 37% of the rise in BMI, 43% of the rise in obesity, and 59% of the rise in class II/III obesity.”

They write how the data expresses a change in incentives for Americans from a money-cost perspective and a time-cost perspective. One of the researchers, Charles Courtemanche, an assistant professor of Economics at Georgia State University, said to Khazan:

"You're talking about switching from seeing a restaurant as an occasion, to an environment where restaurants are everywhere, and you're always driving by one, so there's no time cost anymore. It's very easy to get restaurant food."

Whether big-house retailers and restaurants are a variable in the growing obesity epidemic, the cost to the American people in terms of health care is growing. Khazan puts forth a compelling suggestion: to charge a tax on junk foods in order to help fund the growing hospital bill we're racking up as a result of illnesses related to obesity. This plan could in turn help push people toward healthier options while shopping at the local wholesale superstore.

Read more at The Atlantic.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Space toilets: How astronauts boldly go where few have gone before

A NASA astronomer explains how astronauts dispose of their, uh, dark matter.

  • When nature calls in micro-gravity, astronauts must answer. Space agencies have developed suction-based toilets – with a camera built in to ensure all the waste is contained before "flushing".
  • Yes, there have been floaters in space. The early days of space exploration were a learning curve!
  • Amazingly, you don't need gravity to digest food. Peristalsis, the process by which your throat and intestines squeeze themselves, actually moves food and water through your digestive system without gravity at all.
Keep reading Show less

Steven Pinker's 13 rules for writing better

The Harvard psychologist loves reading authors' rules for writing. Here are his own.

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 21: Steven Pinker speaks onstage during OZY Fest 2018 at Rumsey Playfield, Central Park on July 21, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Ozy Media)
Personal Growth
  • Steven Pinker is many things: linguist, psychologist, optimist, Harvard professor, and author.
  • When it comes to writing, he's a student and a teacher.
  • Here's are his 13 rules for writing better, more simply, and more clearly.
Keep reading Show less

Can the keto diet help treat depression? Here’s what the science says so far

A growing body of research shows promising signs that the keto diet might be able to improve mental health.

Photo: Public Domain
Mind & Brain
  • The keto diet is known to be an effective tool for weight loss, however its effects on mental health remain largely unclear.
  • Recent studies suggests that the keto diet might be an effective tool for treating depression, and clearing up so-called "brain fog," though scientists caution more research is necessary before it can be recommended as a treatment.
  • Any experiments with the keto diet are best done in conjunction with a doctor, considering some people face problems when transitioning to the low-carb diet.
Keep reading Show less