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Fast Food, Soft Drink, and Candy Intake is Unrelated to Body Mass Index for 95% of American Adults.

David Just and Brian Wansink (2015). Fast Food, Soft Drink, and Candy Intake is Unrelated to Body Mass Index for 95% of American AdultsObesity Science & Practice, 1(2), 126-130. doi: 10.1002/osp4.14

Consumption of fast food, soft drinks, and candy are often pointed to as the primary contributors to obesity and BMI, as well as chronic diseases such as diabetes. This is why overweight and obese patients are often advised to reduce their intake of these particularly indulgent types of foods. In this study, we examined the epidemiological relationship between the incidence of intake of these indulgent foods and BMI.

This study examined the 2007–2008 Centers for Disease Control's National Health and Nutrition Examination survey data. The survey consisted of approximately 5000 in-person surveys, with a complex multistage probability sample design used to ensure that results were representative of the US population. Those represented in the survey were 18 years or older and completed 24-h dietary recall surveys, as well as being given a broad health survey that included general food intake questions. Participant body measurements were taken which included height and weight, as well as BMI. The subjects were then divided into eight groups based on their BMI.

Our analysis of these data focused on number of eating episodes rather than amounts eaten because of the belief that it would be less subject to recall bias.

Excluding the clinically underweight and most morbidly obese, analysis showed that the consumption incidence of indulgent foods was not positively correlated with measures of BMI. Furthermore, there weren’t any significant variations of BMI in away-from-home/fast food meals nor any variation between BMI subcategories of indulgent items.

These findings suggest that there is no association between the intake frequency of fast food, soft drinks, and candy, and BMI. These results suggest that focusing solely on restricting consumption of these foods for weight loss may be ineffective. A more effective weigh loss strategy could focus more on reducing the total calories of food eaten and frequency of snacking.