Pity the foolish food police at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). Just one day after they called for tobacco-style warnings on soda cans, science drops a bombshell in their laps.

New research published in the prestigious Lancet medical journal is one of many recent scientific studies reporting that physical activity, not caloric intake, plays the chief role in determining childhood obesity. The authors of the Lancet study wrote that their findings:

… suggest that habitual activity plays an important role in weight gain, with no parallel evidence that energy intake had a similar role … the drastic decline in habitual activity during adolescence might be a major factor in the doubling of the rate of obesity development in the USA in the past two decades, since no concomitant increase in energy intake was apparent.

The Lancet study is no mere scientific outlier. A number of other studies, including the three quoted below, have already pointed out what this latest one corroborates:
“It is often assumed that the increase in pediatric obesity has occurred because of an increase in caloric intake. However, the data do not substantiate this.”
Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 2004
“The lack of evidence of a general increase in energy [food] intake among youths despite an increase in the prevalence of overweight suggests that physical inactivity is a major public health challenge in this age group.”
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2000
“Of the 7 dietary and physical activity variables examined in this cross-sectional study, insufficient vigorous physical activity was the only risk factor for higher body mass index for adolescent boys and girls … Interestingly, in this group of adolescents, increased energy intake (higher kilojoules) was related to decreased overweight status. At first, this finding appears contradictory. However, given the increasing levels of vigorous activity among this group, it is likely that they expend greater amounts of energy, creating a favorable energy balance.”
Archives of Pediatric & Adolescence Medicine, 2004