Evidence Implicating Eating as a Primary Driver for the Obesity Epidemic

  1. Robert W. Jeffery and
  2. Lisa J. Harnack
  1. From the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota School of Public Health, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Robert W. Jeffery, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota, 1300 S. 2nd St., Suite 300, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55454-1015. E-mail: jefferyrw{at}


This article addresses the extent to which increases in energy intake as opposed to decreases in energy expenditure are driving the obesity epidemic. It argues that while both intake and expenditure are plausible and probable contributors, the fact that all intake is behavioral, whereas less than half of expenditure is behavioral, makes intake a conceptually more appealing primary cause. A review of per capita food disappearance trends over time and of trends in individual intakes is presented to support the plausibility of this perspective. Increases in energy intake mirror increases in body weight quantitatively and are equally widely distributed across diverse groups within the larger population.


  • Published ahead of print at on 18 September 2007. DOI: 10.2337/db07-1029.

    The costs of publication of this article were defrayed in part by the payment of page charges. This article must therefore be hereby marked “advertisement” in accordance with 18 U.S.C. Section 1734 solely to indicate this fact.

    • Received July 24, 2007.
    • Accepted September 12, 2007.
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This Article

  1. Diabetes vol. 56 no. 11 2673-2676
  1. All Versions of this Article:
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