Aside from a short list of chronic metabolic illnesses and medications, the reason why people weigh more than they should is simple: We eat more calories than we burn. (The reverse is true for people who are underweight.) Last week we saw that children who have limited opportunities for outside activities have a higher risk of becoming overweight and obese. It’s clear that increasing the amount of physical activities can change the weight equation to a more favorable outcome.

The predominant variable in the calories in = calories burned equation, however, is the amount of food consumed; we just eat too much. Liz Szabo reviews a new study that sheds some light on why that might be:

At a time of growing concern over childhood obesity, a new report shows kids get 12% of their calories from fast-food restaurants.

A third of kids eat fast food on any given day, according to the report made public Wednesday by the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report found that children eat the equivalent of a small hamburger — such as the kind found in a McDonald’s Happy Meal — every day…


Older children (12-19 years of age) eat more calories from fast food (17%) on a daily basis compared to younger children (9%). For adults, 11% of daily calories come from fast food. In the United States, 33% of children and 65% of adults are either overweight or obese. Where we get our calories may be a big reason for that.

We also learned last week that nearly half of children under the age of 5 who die preventable deaths on this planet are malnourished. In fact, roughly 30% of the world’s population faces starvation. Chris Arsenault looks at the other side of malnutrition (there doesn’t seem to be a happy medium), to a problem the developed world is exporting to the rest of the world:

The number of hungry people in the world fell, but obesity rose between 2010 and 2014 “in every single country”, and one in 12 adults worldwide now has Type 2 diabetes, the report said.

Adult diabetes is increasing in 185 countries and is decreasing or stable in just five.

“Too often people think of malnutrition as just a problem of hungry kids in the poorest countries… (it) has many forms and affects all countries, rich and poor alike,” Corinna Hawkes, co-author of the report, said in a statement.

“The coexistence of nutritional problems associated with extreme deprivation and obesity is the real face of malnutrition.”

Globally, two billion people are not eating the proper amounts of vitamins and minerals, and thus face micronutrient malnutrition, while 1.9 billion adults are overweight or obese.


One form of malnutrition leads to stunting of growth and its health and economic consequences, including premature death from, among other things, starvation, infection, and problems related to premature births. Microsoft founder Bill Gates sums things up:

After years of underinvestment, the world is finally starting to recognize the critical role that nutrition plays in global health and development. But we still have more work to do. Malnutrition is linked to about half of all children’s deaths. Stunting caused by malnutrition makes it much harder for children to get an education and for communities to escape poverty.


The other form of malnutrition leads to overgrowth, also with health and economic consequences, including premature death from, among other things, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at the report cards of a few fast food and chain restaurants regarding the quality of meats they use.