A British mag, The Economist, performed the study, but they use several American examples.
Entire Article: 'Britain Is Winning Fight Against Flab'
The Economist magazine, in its annual predictions for the year ahead, says a number of factors point to bulging bellies going out of fashion. Food companies, worried by the threat of regulation and of lawsuits, are trying to encourage healthiness - without undermining the unhealthy stuff which keeps them in work. So they are producing healthier options — for example Pillsbury sugar-free chocolate-chip cookie dough and Tropicana Light ’n' Healthy orange juice with half the sugar.
They are providing more information — the Happy Meals choice chart, for instance, tells worried parents all the calorific information they need to know. They are promoting exercise - Ronald McDonald has swapped his clown suit for a tracksuit and is now the company’s "global ambassador of fun, fitness and children’s well-being." The media are doing their bit as well. What matters is not the endless diet magazines explaining how to lose 20 pounds by Monday week. Diets make no difference. According to the NPD Group, a consumer market research organisation that tracks eating habits, a quarter of Americans are on a diet at the moment — exactly the same proportion as were on a diet in 1980.
What matters is the increasing interest in eating as a health issue....
According to TNS, a consumer-products consultancy, consumption of burgers in Britain declined by 15% over the past three years - confectionery consumption has declined almost as fast. And the falling sales of US fast food companies are well-known.
Harry Balzer, vice-president of the NPD Group, reckons that social change lies behind these trends in consumer behaviour. He says the main factor determining the way Americans eat is the proportion of women going out to work. The more women go out to work, the more people eat out or buy in cooked food. And food prepared outside the home is always fattier, sugarier and generally less healthy than food prepared at home. He points out since 2000 the proportion of women going out to work has stopped growing, as has the proportion of meals eaten out of the home. He said: "You get a sense of a cultural shift."
Ms Duncan said: "If Mr Balzer is right, and American women are going to stay at home more, and cook more, the troubles of the restaurant chains may worsen and waistlines may shrink. "The social profile of fatness suggests he may be right. The richer you are, the thinner you are likely to be; and it may be with obesity as it was with smoking—where the rich lead, the poor follow." The World Health Organisation says "an escalating global epidemic of overweight and obesity — 'globesity' — is taking over many parts of the world."
But the report says Americans have been expanding every year for a long time. That stopped in 2003. The proportion of overweight Americans dipped slightly then and has not gone back up again.
In Britain, much the same has happened: the proportion of the population that is overweight seems to have plateaued. Said Ms Duncan: "Hardly surprising, when you think about it: people weren’t going to go on getting fatter until they popped. "The interesting question, now, is whether Britons and Americans will stay as plump as they are, or will start to shrink. There are a few good reasons for betting on the latter." Governments are trying to persuade people to be healthier. The fuss made by health professionals about obesity has filtered through to bureaucrats’ heads.
The American government issued new dietary guidelines in 2005 for the first time since 1980 - these recommend eating many more fruits and vegetables, more low-fat milk, more whole grains and increasing exercise to as much as an hour and a half a day. Ms Duncan said: "Whether anybody will pay any attention is, of course, questionable - but the public health-education programme on the dangers of tobacco is generally believed to have helped reduce smoking."
LIFE STYLE EXTRA (UK) All Rights Reserved
Honey, you know how you can make the both of us slimmer?
Get off the couch and fix me a sandwich...