Restaurants, big-box stores drive obesity rates, says Wehby and colleagues

Published on February 24, 2015

A portrait of George Wehby of the Department of Health Management and Policy at the University of Iowa College of Public Health.
George Wehby

What’s driving America’s obesity epidemic? Some studies say it’s food deserts; others say it’s desk jobs. Some even claim that it’s the decline in smoking, since tobacco suppresses appetite. Researchers, including George Wehby, CPH associate professor of health management and policy, analyzed a number of these theories for a recent study.

The investigators examined 27 economic factors thought to contribute to obesity. Only two of the factors ended up being meaningful drivers of obesity: 1) the proliferation of restaurants and 2) the rise of warehouse clubs, like Costco, and super-centers, like those Walmarts that have grocery stores in them. (Source: The Atlantic)

A number of media sources have covered this research, including:

Is Costco Making Us Fat? The Atlantic

The Economy Is Making You Fat Bloomberg Business

Are warehouse stores making Americans fat? CBS

Living Near Walmart Is Why You’re Fat Fast Company

Obesity Follows Retailers And Restaurants International Business Times

Why Are Americans Getting Bigger? NPR

Have Big-Box Superstores Helped To Make Us Fat? The Salt – NPR

Obesity crisis: Bulk food makes America bulky says study  Toronto Star

The growth of Wal-Mart may have made America’s obesity epidemic worse The Washington Post