In a first of its kind study that shows environmental conditions can be more influential than genetics, Virginia Tech researchers have found that the cost of food — not someone’s genetic makeup — is a major factor in eating fattening food.
The study, which was recently published in The Open Neuroendocrinology Journal, suggests that economic environments could be altered to help counteract the obesity epidemic plaguing more than one-third of Americans.
In the U.S. over the last 30 years, the price of fattening food has declined compared to healthy food, while obesity rates increased. This research suggests that if fattening foods cost more or were taxed, people would be less likely to eat them.
“This study shows that the current low costs of high-fat foods only exacerbates the obesity epidemic, even among those individuals who might not otherwise be prone to obesity, ” said George Davis, a professor of agricultural and applied economics and health, nutrition, foods and exercise in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.