Findings published in The Lancet, a leading medical journal, show that children in the United States today consume 200 calories over what their counterparts did in the 1970s. Healthcare and obesity experts have pinned this down to lack of enough government initiatives to curb the obesity trend and food companies not doing enough to promote healthy food trends.
Alarmingly, the study also states that children in the United States today weight about 5kgs more than they did three decades ago. The study also drills down to the key factor leading to a lackadaisical attitude toward healthy eating initiatives – all the extra food consumption reportedly adds about US$20 billion to the US food industry annually.
However, the message that is being conveyed through a series of research papers in The Lancet is this: Food companies are largely to be blamed for the increasing incidence of obesity in the United States. The authors of these studies state that the ‘special interest’ of food companies in targeting children can largely be held responsible for the massive scale of the obesity wave.
The authors claimed that with children repeatedly being exposed to processed foods and sweetened and carbonated drinks from a very young age, strong taste preferences are being built. This also builds brand loyalty, which in turn leads to higher profits, the authors of the study claimed.
Estimates show that in 2015, the global processed foods market is likely to reach US$19 billion as compared to 2007 figures of US$13.7 billion. However, obesity experts rue the fact that very few countries have made a move towards implementing health food regulations to shield children from the obesity epidemic.
Dr Christina Roberto, one of the researchers on the team, states that it is vital to reframe the very understanding of obesity in order to stop and reverse the wave of obesity, using techniques such as ‘smart food policies’ and better coordination between governments and the industry.