Select Page

Dr Peter McIlveen Junk Food


We have long linked the consumption of high-calorie foods that are low in nutrients, like sodas, sweets, and french fries, with obesity. But recent studies are challenging what we know of this relationship.

In a recent study by the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab, researchers reexamined national data from 2007-08 and asserted that fast food, candy, and soft drink consumption had no correlation to body mass index (BMI).

They found that people at a healthy weight who ate junk food were categorized at nearly the same annual amount of junk food as people with obesity.

David Just, a lead researcher of the study, says solely addressing the availability of junk foods and sodas isn’t going to make any significant changes. Banishing bad food as the solution to obesity is misinformed.

“Just because those things can lead you to get fat doesn’t mean that’s what is making us fat,” says Just.

However, we cannot disregard the negative impact of junk food.  Another study, by the New England Journal of Medicine gathered data from 120,000 U.S. adults shows that an extra serving of potato chips every day contributed to the gaining of approximately one pound per year, over a four year period.

For our kids, we need to encourage healthy eating. About 31 percent of American kids are now overweight or obese. With the weight we gain in childhood usually sticking with us into adulthood, the foods we consume as a young person will affect us throughout our entire life. Fast food that is popular with children, like chicken nuggets, fish sticks, french fries, and desserts thick with butter have been linked to excessive weight gain.

The Cornell Study may show that indulging in fast food may not be directly related to obesity, but we do know that our eating habits as a young person affect us for the rest of our life. Our bodies require nutrient-dense foods to thrive.  What these studies show is that every person’s relationship to their obesity is unique – and your weight loss strategy will also be tailored to your own body and lifestyle.

Find a video and informational graphic explaining the research from the Cornell group here.