News You Can Use: Junk Food Isn't Making Us Fat
Here's some unexpected news from the world of science: A new study, conducted by researchers at Cornell University, has found that it's not junk food — per se — that's making us heavier than we want to be.
The problem, it seems, isn't the random piece of chocolate cake or sugary soda. Sure, those foods are black holes of nutrition, and eating them isn't going to make anyone into a bastion of wellness. But neither are they solely to blame for our obesity epidemic.
Researchers found that the consumption of junk food didn't differ much between "normal"-weight participants and those who were heavier — in other words, obese participants had about the same number of splurges as others. "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," said lead researcher David Just, co-director of the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics. The real culprit? An across-the-board failure to control portions.
The takeaway? One extra slice of chocolate cake isn't going to kill you. Other studies have shown that deprivation diets (focused on ensuring you never again taste doughnut, for example) don't work. This adds more fuel to the fire, suggesting that the occasional splurge is no big deal — especially if it's easier to maintain a generally nutritious diet knowing that a once-in-the-while treat isn't forever off the menu.