Pop, fries and chips … oh my

A recent study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, indicates that more exercise and less fast food could help curb obesity epidemic in our nation. There’s a shock.

According to the study, an increased consumption of potato chips, French fries, sugary sodas and red meat is a major cause of weight gain in people.

The report also indicates television watching, a lack of exercise and poor sleep patterns were also linked to weight gain over the length of the study.

The study followed more than 120,000 women and men for up to 20 years and found that participants gained an average of 3.35 pounds within each four-year period. That’s 16 or more pounds over two decades. Yikes.

The continued weight gain was tied most strongly to eating potatoes, sugar-sweetened beverages, red and processed meats and refined grains such as white flour, the reprot indicates.

The facts in the study are alarming. Each daily serving of potato chips was associated with a 1.69 pound-weight gain every four years. Fries led to a 1.28-pound gain, sugar-sweetened beverages brought on a 1-pound gain, unprocessed red meats accounted for a 0.95-pound gain, and processed meats brought on a 0.93-pound gain.

Alcohol use accounted for a 0.41-pound gain per drink per day.

Those who slept less than six hours (or more than eight hours ecah night) also gained more. Those who watched more television were also among the weight gainers (an average of 0.31 pounds for every hour of TV watched per day).

Foods associated with stable weight or less weight gain included vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts, yogurt and low-fat dairy food.

For individuals who bit the bullet and achieved more physical activity, they gained 1.76 fewer pounds during the study period.