All too often, activists rely on their academic allies’ junk science to scare Americans about the food we eat. “According to the latest study, we’re too fat” has become a near-daily refrain in the media. But increasingly, some academics are willing to actively combat the dogma of the nation’s top food cops at institutions like Harvard’s School of Public Health and the Center for Science in the Public Interest. And increasingly more studies offer a different perspective on the overwhelmingly one-sided debate about obesity. Below is a selection of yet-to-be-published studies presented at the 2005 Annual Conference of the North American Association for the Study of Obesity (NAASO).
Study: Frequency of School Vending Machine Purchases, BMI and Diet Quality
Banning vending machines from schools has become the cause du jour for food cops. Just last month California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation outlawing all soda from schools — including diet soda. Yet the evidence suggests that vending machines are not contributing to childhood obesity. One study presented at NAASO’s conference found “that frequency of purchases [of soda] from school vending machines was not associated with BMI percentile or DQ [dietary quality].”
Study: Does Portion Size or Amount of Food Affect Consumption?
Even before Morgan Spurlock’s “Supersize Me” hit American movie theaters, activists were blaming obesity on restaurants serving too much food. The food cops have even suggested outright government portion control. But a study from NAASO’s conference reported:
There was no effect of portion size. Calculations of percent available energy consumed from the snack foods indicated that each condition ate 59.5% of what had been provided. This suggests that smaller portions did not influence intake…
Study: Dietary Energy Density Is Not Associated with Adult Obesity
A third study found that energy-dense foods like hamburgers and hot dogs, which are regularly blamed for obesity, do not appear to contribute to the problem:
[W]e found no statistically significant associations between DED [dietary energy density] and BMI, waist circumference, tricep skinfolds, and subscapular skinfold. Similarly, we found no independent association between [dietary energy density] and glycosylated hemoglobin, fasting glucose, HDL [“good cholesterol”], LDL [“bad cholesterol”], total cholesterol, and triglycerides … In conclusion, DED is not significantly associated with BMI and other anthropometric measurement of obesity and adiposity. Moreover, DED is not significantly associated with the majority of common risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
While activists and academics continue to atack food, a number of studies indicate a strong link between obesity and lack of physical activity.