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Cheap Foods Linked to Obesity Epidemic

Update Date: May 23, 2014 10:05 AM EDT

The obesity epidemic is currently a huge health problem for several nations. Obesity not only increases risk of diseases, it can also greatly affect the health care system. Several studies examining the causes of obesity have repeatedly reported that the combination of eating bad foods and a lack of exercise is the main contributor to the epidemic. However, according to a new study, researchers are reporting that it is the cost of food that fuels the obesity epidemic.

"Not only has food been getting cheaper, but it is easier to acquire and easier to prepare," Roland Sturm, lead author of the report and a senior economist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization, said according to Philly. "It's not just that we may be eating more high-calorie food, but we are eating more of all types of food."

Strum, who worked with Ruopeng An from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, reviewed data on food purchases within the United States from 75 prior papers and reports. They reported that in the 1930s, Americans used roughly 25 percent of their disposable income on food. By the 1950s, that rate fell to 20 percent. Now, Americans only spend 10 percent of their disposable income on food. This trend reveals that food is now more affordable today than it was in the past.

"Greater convenience, reduced time costs of obtaining meals, and increased accessibility lead to increased food consumption and possibly have been the major causes behind weight gain since the 1980s," the authors wrote reported by CBS News.

The findings from this study contradict the argument that Americans are getting fatter because fruits and vegetables are not readily accessible. Instead, the obesity rate appears to increase as the availability of fruits and vegetables increases as well. The researchers stressed the importance of eating well and watching one's calorie intake.

The study was published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

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