Why Fruit and Veggies Aren't Obesity Cure-Alls

(Photo: Sean Winters)

RAND reports on a healthy eating dilemma:

Is eating more fruits and vegetables the key to reducing obesity? A recent RAND study of more than 2,700 adults found that calorie intake from cookies, candy, salty snacks, and soda was approximately twice as high as the recommended daily amount. Consumption of fruits and vegetables, on the other hand, is only 20% shy of recommended guidelines.

Still, eating extra fruit adds more in total calories than it displaces in calories you would have otherwise consumed through junk food. For example, on average, eating one additional serving of fruit reduces about 16 calories from junk food, but it adds 70 calories to your daily total. Therefore, eating less junk food appears more important for reducing obesity than eating more fruit and veggies.




The issue isn't that you need to increase your fruits and veggies only; its more of a replacement mechanism. So if you're coming home from work and you need a snack, you can eat a Snicker's bar (~210) calories or you can eat an apple (~90 calories). One's body can only consume so many items of food before you're full. Replacing junk food with fruit/veggies is a lower calorie alternative to chips, candy or soda.

But yes, calorie count should also be important. Even if whole wheat bread is good for you; eating an entire loaf for lunch is still a bad idea.


It's not just the Calories, though. It's the lower calories, lower sugar (Glycemic load) and more fiber.


Yeah, but a calorie-centric view of weight and health can be counter-productive, right?


There are a plethora of ways to get around counting calories - interestingly though, they can all be tied to counting calories. Play games all you want, it IS about caloric consumption, exercise, the right kinds of calories, etc.

Enter your name...

In terms of losing fat, the type of food may matter more than the number of calories. It seems that 100 calories of meat do not contribute as much to the creation of fat tissue as 100 calories of bread, because the meat doesn't trigger the fat-tissue-creating insulin response.

You can't ignore calories altogether, but they do not appear to be exactly equal.


Wait... what??!
Are you telling me that I won't be magically thinner by eating more??!

Mayuresh Gaikwad

The way it should work is, when one feels like having a snack, instead of having a bag of chips, s/he should have an apple/orange. S/he will feel full, hunger pangs would be satisfied and some much needed roughage along with lower calories ingested. Lower calories and more roughage with hunger satisfied, what's not to like?

That doesn't mean you eat all your junk food that you ate before and eat additional fruits. The keyword here is SUBSTITUTION


The secret is to burn more than you eat. It is simple as much as it is hard to accomplish.


LMAO science fail

Fat boy

You will be hearing from the Fruit and Vegetable Industry attorney.


Also from the Junk Food Industry Association. They also benefit from the belief that people can increase fruit and veg without giving up junk food.

Franklin Chen

I lost 30 pounds over a decade ago, and kept it off permanently. I never counted calories. It doesn't really work. We all know calorie-counters who failed miserably (and without any enjoyment while at it). What works:

- completely changing from being a sedentary person to being an active person, thereby changing one's cellular structure and metabolism

- cutting out stuff that just makes you hungrier (i.e. sugar) and therefore eat more


"...one additional serving of fruit reduces about 16 calories from junk food, but it adds 70 calories to your daily total."

It might be possible to come up with a definition of "serving" that would allow that sentence to make sense, but I doubt it. What's a serving? One apple vs one Oreo, or one apple vs a whole package of Oreos?

In any case, it seems to ignore the obvious fact that the source of calories doesn't matter that much for weight loss (though it does for general nutrition &c). Consume more calories than you burn, and you gain weight.


again, science fail. you should really look up that thing you keep saying. calories in vs calories out has been debunked for years.


Debunked by whom, the department of wishful thinking? Works for me, my dogs, the horses...


Poor showing. The title of your piece claims fruit and veggies in place of junk food will not help you lose weight. Then you go on to site a study that compares fruit and junk food, and conclude that because "on average, eating one additional serving of fruit reduces about 16 calories from junk food, but it adds 70 calories to your daily total" that some how veggies are not beneficial.

1) where is your data on the veggies? Why do you condemn them with fruit? Fruit is loaded with sugar. Veggies are, well, not.

2) what types of fruit are they testing? Or are we just painting all fruit as equal and condemning all fruit with one judgement?

3) also, please show me that definitive data that links calorie consumption with weight loss/gain.


"Consumption of fruits and vegetables, on the other hand, is only 20% shy of recommended guidelines."

That's because "recommended guidelines" aren't based on optimal amount for health, but are skewed to what people will actually eat. When they develop the guidelines they don't just say "what's the healthiest foods/amounts to eat?" Rather, they say "what's the healthiest foods/amounts to eat within reason?" The healthiest diet in the world may be an all-spinach-and-sprouts diet, but it won't do any good to recommend that, no one would follow it and the plan would be incredible (as in 'not credible', not 'amazing').