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The Influence on Population Weight Gain and Obesity of the Macronutrient Composition and Energy Density of the Food Supply

Abstract

Rates of overweight and obesity have increased dramatically in all regions of the world over the last few decades. Almost all of the world’s population now has ubiquitous access to low-cost, but highly-processed, energy-dense, nutrient-poor food products. These changes in the food supply, rather than decreases in physical activity, are most likely the primary driver of population weight gain and obesity. To-date, the majority of prevention efforts focus on personalised approaches targeting individuals. Population-wide food supply interventions addressing sodium and trans fat reduction have proven highly effective and comparable efforts are now required to target obesity. The evidence suggests that strategies focusing upon reducing the energy density and portion size of foods will be more effective than those targeting specific macronutrients. Government leadership, clearly specified targets, accountability and transparency will be the key to achieving the food supply changes required to address the global obesity epidemic.

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Acknowledgments

Michelle Crino, Gary Sacks, Gary Swinburn and Bruce Neal are researchers within an NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Obesity Policy and Food Systems (APP1041020). Bruce Neal is supported by an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship (DP100100295) and a National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia Senior Research Fellowship (APP100311).

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Conflict of Interest

Michelle Crino has received scholarship money from Sanitarium Honours Scholarship 2011, and was in the Student Placement Program 2009 at Campbell Arnott’s.

Gary Sacks and Boyd Swinburn declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Stefanie Vandevijvere has received a Fellowship through the University of Auckland, and received travel/accommodations expenses covered or reimbursed for attending International conferences from Heart Foundation New Zealand, Maurice and Phyllis Paykel Trust New Zealand, and Auckland Medical Research Foundation.

Bruce Neal has received grant support from Australian Food and Grocery Council, and he interacts regularly on a non-financial basis with multiple large corporations in the Food Processing Industry and the Quick Service Restaurant industry in Australia and overseas in his efforts to improve the quality of the food supply.

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This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

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Correspondence to Michelle Crino.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Etiology of Obesity

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Crino, M., Sacks, G., Vandevijvere, S. et al. The Influence on Population Weight Gain and Obesity of the Macronutrient Composition and Energy Density of the Food Supply. Curr Obes Rep 4, 1–10 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13679-014-0134-7

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Keywords

  • Obesity
  • Nutrition transition
  • Macronutrient composition
  • Energy density
  • Food supply
  • Ultra-processed food products