Americans eating fewer calories, getting fatter

It's a question even healthy individuals can struggle with: How many calories should I eat in order to lose or maintain my weight?

And while the last few decades have seen Americans swap sodas for water or couch time for treadmills, a disturbing fact remains the same: Obesity is on the rise.

CDC report says Americans are eating less but gaining more

According to survey data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Americans are eating, on average, 74 fewer calories per day than in 2003. But about 30 percent of adult women are still obese, and the percentage of obese men has risen from 27 percent to 35 percent since 1999.

Health experts say the equation doesn't make sense - a caloric reduction should translate into weight loss, even if it is extremely gradual.

"Seventy-four calories is a lot, and as I said before, we would expect to see a measurable impact on obesity," study author William Dietz, former CDC director of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity, told Reuters Health.

Some say that it may take more time for these types of changes to be reflected in survey data, while others point out that the data may simply be wrong.

Too little exercise?

Dietz notes that one possible explanation is that people aren't exercising enough - despite consuming fewer calories.

Claire Wang, who studies energy intake and expenditure at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, says that lack of awareness about the types of calories people are consuming might also be a factor, like calories that come from sodas or sugary snacks.

Dietz concludes that although "people should be losing weight," they may be hesitant to provide the correct information on surveys or could be miscalculating their caloric intake.

Source: TODAY Health

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