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Junk Food is not the Root Cause of the Obesity Epidemic, Study Says

Update Date: Nov 05, 2015 02:16 PM EST

Junk food is not the leading cause of the obesity epidemic, a new study stated.

According to researchers from Cornell University, even though junk food, fast food and soda are bad for one's health, they are not the main reason behind the high obesity rates. Instead, the researchers suggested that the root problem is that Americans tend to eat too much.

"These are foods that are clearly bad for you and if you eat too much of them they will make you fat, but it doesn't appear to be the main driver that is making people overweight and obese," lead researcher David Just, co-director of the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics, said reported by WebMD. "For 95 percent of the country, there is no relationship between how much fast food and junk food they're eating and their weight. Because of the bad habits we have, with all our food, just eliminating junk food is not going to do anything."

In this study, Just and director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, Brian Wansink looked at data from the 2007-2008 National Household and Nutrition Examination Survey, which included information on around 5,000 American adults.

The researchers were able to conclude that junk food consumption was not linked to weight gain in the majority of the population (95 percent). They noted that weight gain from junk food did occur in people who were either extremely underweight or very obese.

The researchers stressed that their study's findings are not suggesting that it is okay to eat junk food. Other experts have also informed people not to misinterpret the findings.

"[Overall] these foods aren't good for you. There is no good argument for soda in your diet," Just said.

"One must be careful not to misinterpret the findings of this study to mean that eating fast food, candy and soft drinks does not affect the health of children and adults," Samantha Heller, a senior clinical nutritionist at New York University Medical Center in New York City, cautioned. "Anecdotally, the diets of the patients I see who are struggling with being overweight or obese are often high in fast and junk foods and sugar."

The study was published in the journal, Obesity Science & Practice.

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