The Physicians Committee

Stop Sugarcoating Obesity’s Leading Causes

  November 16, 2017    

Stop Sugarcoating Obesity’s Leading Causes

Americans are drinking less soda. According to a new study, about half of American adults now drink sugary beverages on any given day—down from 61.5 percent in 2003. That’s good news for Americans’ health. But it’s not enough to stop our worsening obesity epidemic.

Per capita sugar consumption has been steadily falling since 1999. Yet, obesity rates continue to climb. Last month, the CDC reported that obesity among adults in the United States reached an all-time high of 39.8 percent in 2016.

So what happened?

In 2012, Americans collectively consumed 52.2 billion pounds of meat. Individually, we eat about 270 pounds per year. Compared to just a century ago, that’s nearly 150 additional pounds of meat  per person each year. At the same time, cheese consumption has soared from just four pounds per person in 1909 to 36 pounds today. These foods are not only packed with calories, but also fat and cholesterol—which aren’t good for our arteries or our waistlines.

To start making progress against obesity, it’s time to move these high-fat foods off of our plates and start focusing on plant foods.

Populations who base their diets on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes are the healthiest and trimmest on the planet. Epidemiological studies have analyzed the diets of thousands of people and found that vegetarian and vegan diets are best for weight control. Clinical trials have come to the same conclusion, like the 2015 study finding those consuming vegetarian diets lost more weight, compared with those following omnivorous diets.

The results are clear: The more we set aside high-calorie foods like meat and cheese and embrace vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans, the healthier we will be.



What good sense--and succinctly and well expressed too! I wish it could be run in places like the op ed page of the New York Times as well.

I had a heart attack 8 years

I had a heart attack 8 years ago, and was put on various medications, which I still take. However, I also was influenced at the time, by the writings of Dean Ornish, and became a vegan. I've never looked back and think veganism is the best thing you can do after a heart attack. Since I'm 67, and want to extend my years of life that I have left.. I enjoy Dr. Barnard's interesting articles . He is an inspiration to me, and he is an inspiration to heart patients who don't get much logical talk about diet from most doctors, especially local MDs and many cardiologists.

The difference in weight between vegetarians and vegans

Dr. Neal Barnard, I thought that was very illuminating when you said that a vegeterian weighs 15 pounds more than a vegan on average. When I became a vegan I finally lost the weight I had never managed to lose thanks to the fact that I wanted to spare the cows the horrible fate they have in the dairy industry. Thank you so much for all you do.

Your research and work

I am very grateful to have found your research and am in awe of whst you have achieved in your life so far. I was raised a vegetarian and my husband adopted this way of eating after a year or so of our marriage. Ee still fell into the trap of letting stressful jobs and began eating the wrong foods to alieviate that stress. Also we did not know about eggs, milk and cheeses. I was cycling 40Km a day but eating sugary foods and too much cheese. This combination led me to put on about 20Kg over time. It was only when life events led me to take a redundancy that this changed. I definitley suffered depression from this but one if the best things was this all led me to find out my husband had calcification of the left coronary artery. Wow being science based MSc(SpSc) I did lots of research and through my older sister found Dr Caldwell Esselstyn Jnr and immediately embraced the advice in Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. It made my furious to read the truth about cheese eggs snd milk. Had we known this earler we woukd have embraced this way of eating long ago. Since then I have found your work, Dr Ornish, Dr Furman, Dr Greger and Dr Khan, and Dr Klaper whom I travelled across Australia (Perth to Sydney) to listen to. Also I completed T Colin Campbells Plant Based Nutrition course.
My mother who was also a vegetarian since meeting my father in her 30s was also vegetarian. She had good health up until her 80s but has suffered high bp, a reversable vasoconstriction of cerebral artery and breast cancer at 87. We feel sure dairy and eggs contributed to this. My family all eat plant based whole food, no oil with the exception of my 24 year old daughter eho wont have a bar of it. I wish I had known earlier so I could have brought her up to be plant based whoke food and not vegetarian. Nothing I csn do except be a good example - I have lost 20 Kg snd ferl much better eating this way. My husbands cholesterol has improved but he still has a way to go. He has lost all extra fat though which is great, chol from6.5 to 4.3. Hoping for further improvements.
Thank you for your work as a former academic I am in awe of your research, your organization, your very personable writing style in your books - which I have many of, and all that you have achieved so far. Currently listening to the E4 Diabetes Perspectives Summit. Thank you so much from deep within my soul. I wish you a long and happy life. Thank you for caring for —all sentient beings.


Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Connect with Dr. Barnard



Stay Connected

Receive action alerts, breaking medical news, e-newsletters, and special offers via e-mail. Sign up >