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An Epidemic of Obesity Myths
Other Causes of Obesity: Little Things That Can Add Up Over Time

Yo-Yo Dieting: "Despite the increased prevalence of intentional weight loss, weight cyclers ["yo-yo dieters"] gained more weight than noncyclers between 1993 and 2001."
-Harvard researchers writing in the International Journal of Obesity, 2004

Video Games: "This study provides the strongest evidence for an independent association between time spent playing electronic games and childhood obesity."
-Obesity Research, 2004

Depression: "We also found support for the hypothesis that depressive symptoms would predict obesity onset … for each additional depressive symptom reported by an adolescent, there was more than a fourfold increase in risk for obesity onset, which suggests that this effect is clinically meaningful in magnitude."
-Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 2005

Sleep Deprivation: "For participants who sleep less than eight hours a night—74 percent of the group—BMI was inversely proportional to sleep duration. That is, the less sleep a subject got, the greater the person's BMI and thus the more overweight."
-Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, 2005

"In young men allowed to sleep only 4 hours/night for 2 days, leptin decreased and ghrelin increased relative to the pattern seen with 10 hours of sleep on each of two nights. Thus, our epidemic of obesity may reflect one response to less sleep."
-Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 2005

Birth Control: "Quasi-experimental studies of [birth control] implants do show a significant association [with weight gain]. Norplant use is associated with an average weight gain of 2.2 lbs per year. Six quasi-experimental and non-experimental studies examined the association between use of the injectable, Depo Provera, and weight gain. Results indicate that women using Depo Provera do gain weight in the first year (2.5 -12 lbs) and in subsequent years."
-Oregon Department of Human Services, 2004

Infant Formula: "The main finding of the present study was that weight gain during the first week of life in healthy, European American, formula-fed infants was associated with overweight status 2 to 3 decades later."
-Circulation, 2005

Smoking Cessation and Weight Gain

"For men, about a quarter and for women, about a sixth of the increase in the prevalence of overweight could be attributed to smoking cessation within the past 10 years."
-The New England Journal of Medicine, 1995

"There is no question that smoking affects the epidemic of obesity,' said Dr. Neil Grunberg, a psychologist and neuroscientist at the Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, Md. Smokers who quit, he noted, gain about 10 to 12 pounds on average, in part because they crave sweet foods and carbohydrates. In addition, Dr. Grunberg said, smokers' metabolism slows down after they quit … 'I sure would like for people not to be obese,' [CDC researcher] Dr. Williamson said. But, he added, if they got that way because they don't smoke, then 'maybe the sky isn't falling quite as much as we think it is.'"
-The New York Times, December 19, 2004

"Rising cigarette prices account for as much as 20 percent of increasing BMI."
-National Bureau of Economic Research, 2001