The Major Cause of Obesity in The United States


We are headed on a very dangerous course in our nation today. 78.6 million Americans are clinically obese in the United States. That is over two thirds of the U.S. Population. Why have obesity levels reached such an alarming rate in this nation? The reasons are varied and multifaceted. But one thing stands out that is responsible for the major cause of this epidemic of excess weight gain: processed foods. And in every processed food is the one thing that the food marketers use to reap their billions in profits by way of consumer addiction- sugar.
Food markers have capitalized on America’s obsession with low fat, no trans fat and low carb claims with the food products they peddle. How do they do it? The food manufacturers do something very subtly and cleverly: they know they need to hook a consumer for life with the chemical laden, processed wares they peddle so they load it with processed sugars. This keeps the consumer coming back for more and more. And make no mistake, sugar is an addiction. But this tactic used by the food industry is often overlooked by the average consumer for two reasons:
1. The consumer is more likely to read the claims on the front of the package then read the ingredients.
2. The food manufacturers cleverly hide sugar in their products under various names that are highly processed, highly concentrated sugars, artificial sweeteners and derivatives of sugar .
As a result, consumers have become hooked and obesity rates have more than tripled in the United States since 1950.
The data below shows a very dangerous linear trend we are on with relation to sugar consumption and obesity rates. Although we follow the rule that correlation is not causation, from the data shown, we can see there is a very positive, linear correlation in the relationship between obesity rates and sugar consumption over the last six decades (click on the chart for a larger view).



The average American is now consuming 150 pounds of sugar a year compared to 70 pounds a year in 1950. The sugar consumption has not only resulted in obesity rates that are have more than tripled since 1950 but obesity related diseases such as heart disease, hypertension and certain obesity related cancers have increased significantly.
There are two things we need to start taking action on if we are to reverse obesity rates in this nation:
• Hold the Food Marketers accountable.
• Educate people on the dangers of processed foods through community based programs on nutrition awareness.
• If a food marketer can induce a nutritionally challenged but well-meaning consumer into buying their products with such claims as “Low Fat”, “No Trans Fat” , “Only 100 calories a bar”, then they should be also required to by law to put on their package – “This product contains more than —–% sugar . This has been shown to contribute to such diseases as diabetes, obesity and obesity related illnesses“.
• Create a program that educates consumers on nutrition awareness. People need to understand and beware of what is in processed foods. A sound nutrition awareness program will be a good start in coaching the consumer on how to identify and avoid processed sugar laden foods.

Let’s start taking our health back.



Bird, Beverly. “How Much Have Obesity Rates Risen Since 1950?” 26 08 2013. 20 04 2015.

“Cost Containment and Obesity Prevention.” n.d. n.d. 2015. The State of Obesity. 20 04 2015.

“Overweight and Obesity.” 09 09 2014. Center for Disease Control. 20 04 2015.



James Torro
James A. Torro is a former certified fitness instructor and is currently a nutrition major. He earned his MBA from the University of Scranton and lives in Tampa, Florida with his wife and two children.