Fast Food, Soft Drink, and Candy Intake is Unrelated to Body Mass Index for 95% of American Adults
Cornell University - Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management
October 1, 2015
Objective: Excessive intake of fast food, soft drinks, and candy are considered major factors leading to overweight and obesity. This article examines whether the epidemiological relationship between frequency of intake of these foods and Body Mass Index (BMI) is driven by the extreme tails ( /- 2 SDs). If so, a clinical recommendation to reduce intake frequency may have little relevance to 95% of the population.
Methods: Using 2007-2008 Centers for Disease Control’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the consumption incidence of targeted foods on two non-continuous days was examined across discrete ranges of BMI. Data were analyzed in 2011.
Results: After excluding the clinically underweight and morbidly obese, consumption of fast food, soft drinks or candy was not positively correlated with measures of BMI. This was true for sweet snacks (r = .005, p= <.001) and salty snacks (r = .001, p= .040). No significant variation was found between BMI subcategories in weekly consumption frequency of fast food meals.
Conclusion: For 95% of this study’s sample, the association between the intake frequency of fast food, soft drinks, and candy and BMI was negative. This result suggests that a strategy that focuses solely on these problem foods may be ineffective in reducing weight. Reducing the total calories of food eaten at home and the frequency of snacking may be more successful dieting advice for the majority of individuals.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 12
Date posted: October 2, 2015 ; Last revised: November 12, 2015