Simply having more food choices leads to obesity - Metro US

Simply having more food choices leads to obesity

McALLEN, TX - NOVEMBER 05: At the parking lot carnival in McAllen, one can buy high-sugar lemonade to wash down the nachos and cheese. Hildalgo County, Texas is one the the poorest and fastest growing counties in the U.S. The local population is also fighting an obesity problem. (Photo by Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)
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Think twice about buying in bulk – a new study shows it’s bulking you up.

Health economist Charles Courtemanche at Georgia State University found that when food options expand – a combination of big-box retailers like Walmart as well as sit-down and fast-food restaurants – there is a major spike in body mass index.

“Changes in variables related to calorie intake collectively explain 37 percent of the rise in [BMI] rates and 43 percent of the rise in obesity,” Courtemanche says.

Their analysis, which looked at 27 factors including the number of stores and restaurants to food prices, unemployment rates, smoking and more, found that the mere availability of cheaper and more convenient food leads people to eat more.

Fewer blue-collar jobs were also cited as a factor, though not because they spend their day at a desk.

“White-collar workers have the flexibility to graze all day at their desks, and they can take lunch out,” says Courtemanche. “It all points to caloric intake.”

There is some good news: If gyms were also convenient, BMI went down. Higher gas prices also deterred gluttony.

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