Over 33 percent of American adults and nearly 20 percent of American children and adolescents are obese. These numbers might be a bit of a surprise, but you've heard about this for years—as a nation, we're getting fatter by the minute. Which means we're putting ourselves at a higher risk of major disease and cutting years (if not decades) off our lifespans.
How did this happen? For one, most Americans don't eat very well. A recent study found that over 50 percent of the average American's calories come from "ultra-processed" foods. Most of us know we should be eating more fruits, veggies and whole foods, but many of us still suck down too many frozen meals and soft drinks. In addition to making poor food choices, we've got a serious problem with portions. Most Americans don't just eat unhealthy foods—they eat way more than the recommended serving size. This combination is a big reason why obesity is on the rise, and a new study sheds light on why we overeat so often.
Entitled "Salt Promotes Passive Overconsumption of Dietary Fat in Humans" and published in The Journal of Nutrition, the study set out "to investigate the effects of both fat and salt on ad libitum food intake." Researchers from Deakin University in Australia recruited 48 healthy participants and fed them four separate lunches over the span of a month. The lunches looked the same—elbow macaroni and tomato sauce—but the researchers altered the amount of salt and fat in each dish. The dishes were either low-fat and low-salt, low-fat and high-salt, high-fat and low-salt, or high-fat and high-salt. Researchers measured how much the participants ate, how satiated they felt after the meal and how much they enjoyed it.