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.




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  1. Dave says:

    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.

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  2. Des says:

    “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’).

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  3. Jar jar says:

    Calorie counting works better if you focus on just the calories from junk food and kept those to under 250 or around 10% of your total calories. The nice thing about junk food is it always comes in a package so the calories are written right there.

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  4. Jill says:

    Please, correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think calories consumed = calories actually absorbed by your body. Aren’t calories units of heat? I think they’re determined by setting the food on fire and measuring the heat output. And fruits and vegetables are chock-full of fiber, which means that you don’t consume the whole serving of fruit — you’re expelling a significant portion.

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  5. larry says:

    It seems like the point here is that its not good enough to eat fruit _in addition_ to what you are already eating. Isn’t that obvious? I read the link and I just don’t really understand what they did in this study.

    Did they ask people to eat more fruit? Did they as people to substitute fruit for a junk food “serving” and people at junk food anyway (i.e. it didn’t help their will-power)? And why does the title talk about fruits and vegetables, but the article only talks about eating more fruit?

    The article is near content free.

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  6. Darliene Howell says:

    Weight-centered, calorie-centric eating does not lead to health. If you begin listening to your body, it will tell you what it is you need. For more information on Health At Every Size, you can find a general explanation on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_at_Every_Size) or find in-depth research-based information in the book Health At Every Size – The Surprising Truth About Your Weight by Dr. Linda Bacon (http://www.lindabacon.org/HAESbook/).

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  7. Mr.T says:

    Looking from an economic point of view what do you expect? It cost more for a bag of apples then a variety bag of chips

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