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What has Triggered growth in Obesity?

Posted on 04/11/2013

Two new pieces of research published by the Institute for Fiscal Studies have been recently presented as part of the Economic and Social Research Council's Festival of Social Science in London.

One of the authors of the report, Dr Melanie Luhrmann, a research associate at the IFS and Lecturer of Economics at Royal Holloway, University of London went to present both papers today (04/11/2013) to help better understand the changes in the rapid growth of obesity and other diet related health problems in the UK.

The first report, 'Gluttony in England? Long-term change in diet' focuses on measuring the importance of some of the main reasons why obesity levels have risen over the past 30 years. The report shows that actually the number of calories being purchased has dropped and that the rising levels of obesity can be better explained by the decreasing amounts of physical activity than overeating.

Melanie Luhrmann said: “We were surprised to find that there has been a substantial decline in total calories purchased at a time when obesity has increased. Purchases of snack foods, soft drinks and food out have increased, and now account for a greater share of calories for most households. However, calories purchased for consumption at home have declined strongly and account for the bulk of households’ food purchases. This does not mean that poor diet plays no part in rising obesity. But understanding the interaction between diet and physical activity is clearly crucial.”

The second report, 'Food expenditure and nutritional quality over the Great Recession' explores how the recession has affected the UK's food purchasing behaviour and in return the nutritional quality of food purchased for the home. The report suggests that the recession has led consumers to more likely purchase processed foods because of its price compared to healthier choices such as fresh fruit and vegetables.  


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