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Too Much Junk!

Studies of American eating habits reveal that almost a quarter of the calories we consume come from nutrient-poor selections – better known as "junk food." If one-fourth of what we eat is junk food, a plan for weight reduction should emphasize eating differently, not just eating less as many nutrition experts advise for weight loss. And if you have a healthy weight, you should still eat less junk food to prevent weight gain and chronic diseases, like cancer.

Too Many Calories from Sodas, Sweets and Desserts
In a recent study that surveyed 4,700 people, soft drinks were the number one source of calories. They accounted for 7.1 percent of the calories the people in this study consumed. Altogether, the categories of soft drinks, sweets and desserts, and alcoholic beverages made up 23.8 percent of total calorie intake. Salty snacks and fruit-flavored drinks added another five percent of calories. Since all of these foods are relatively concentrated in calories, you don’t have to eat a lot of them to increase your daily calorie total.

Another study revealed that people who eat a lot of junk food suffer nutritionally. This study looked at the impact of salty snack foods like potato chips, corn chips, crackers, pretzels and cheese curls. Those who ate the most of these high-fat salty snack foods had diets high in total and saturated fat and low in fruits and vegetables. These people scored poorly for dietary healthfulness.

Score High Points for Health
Studies of nutrient-poor food consumption highlight several important messages:
  • Between-meal snacks and drinks may be the best place to substitute healthy choices and cut back on excess calories.
  • People who are overweight can still be undernourished. Eating more healthful foods is a good way to improve your health and lower your calorie intake at the same time.
  • Junk food is not okay when it displaces healthy food, even if you maintain an appropriate weight. Eating substantial amounts of high-calorie, low-nutrient foods tends to be part of an eating pattern that ignores nutrient-rich vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans. Even if you don’t gain weight by eating lots of junk food, you could increase your health risks, like the risk of cancer, by depriving yourself of protective nutrients and phytochemicals.
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Member Comments

Great article...thanks! Report
I wish they did more work into the people that can eat unlimited junk food and maintain weight. My husband is a serious junk food junkie, he eats fruits or veggies 2-3 times a month, but holds a 6-pack. He thinks he is healthy because he is skinny, he thinks his diet has nothing to do with his aches pains and exhaustion. Report
Great article. This is something I am constantly workng on. Thank you for the reminder. Report
Article and comments are helpful. I was wondering what % of calories are ok from junk food. hmmmm.... maybe a dumb question, like asking how many cigarettes are ok per day. However, at this point, I will eat 1 small dark chocolate bar each day which is 150 calories. Report
Good message. Report
thanks Report
Junk food is too easy. It's easy to grab a handful of chips or a candy bar when feeling hungry instead of preparing something healthy. I have learned to say "no" to junk food or if I do indulge occasionally, I pre-portion a small amount in a bowl and leave the rest in the cupboard instead of eating out of the bag Report
I certainly eat too much junk food and can't stop once started. Report
It's easy to pack on the calories with sugar. Report
I definitely could use to ditch some of the treats each day. Report
I've learned and weigh the option; it is worth eating that junk food over what I am trying to do to improve my health?!? Will it make me guilty if I indulge?!?! If the answer is yes, I'm passing it up. This doesn't mean I don't enjoy a slice of cake, candy or chips. Thank God I am not tempted to overindulge. I don't want my journey to be halted over an emotional binge. I agree with CELOALLEN, if you're tempted to overindulge, just don't do it! Report
Good article. Report
I have a problem with moderation. It is much easier for me to resist all than it is to have just one portion. I adhere to the advertisement that said "you can't have just one" So I find it easier to just say no in the first place. Report
I disagree with WOUBBIE, and think ALISA1122 has it just right. Moderation is the key. People get heavy for different reasons. Binge eating is a sign of an emotional problem. While avoiding trigger foods can help in the beginning, in the end you need to deal with whatever was causing this behavior. Therapy is the correct solution. I'm stunned with how many people look to a weight loss site to cure them of serious psychological issues. I know it's easy and popular to blame the food, but the problems with you. Report
This article brought to you by Captain Obvious. Report
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About The Author

The American Institute for Cancer Research
The American Institute for Cancer Research
The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is a charity that has contributed more than $70 million for research on diet and cancer. AICR educates Americans how to make dietary changes to lower their cancer risk.