Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Researchers blame Wal-Mart for obesity epidemic, say buying in bulk increases obesity

The rise of obesity in America can be linked to the availability of cheap food sold in bulk from warehouse stores like Wal-Mart, according to a study researchers from Georgia State UniversityUniversity of IowaUniversity of Virginia and University of Louisville released this week, Danielle Paquette reports for The Washington Post. Wal-Mart is the biggest retailer in the U.S. and a staple of many rural areas.

Charles Courtemanche, assistant professor of economics at Georgia State University, told Paquette, "We live in an environment with increasingly cheap and readily available junk food. We buy in bulk. We tend to have more food around. It takes more and more discipline and self-control to not let that influence your weight.”

Obesity in America has surged from 1960, when 13 percent of adults were obese, to 2012, when 35 percent of adults were obese, Paquette writes. The first Wal-Mart store opened in 1962, the first Sam's Club in 1983 and the first Wal-Mart Supercenter in 1988. In addition to Wal-Mart, numerous other warehouse-style stores, like Target and Costco, have followed Wal-Mart's lead by selling in bulk.

The study found that opening an additional Wal-Mart store "per 100,000 residents increased an area’s average body mass index by 0.24 units, or 10.8 percent of the sample obesity rate," Paquette writes. Researchers wrote, “These estimates imply that the proliferation of Wal-Mart Supercenters explains 10.5 percent of the rise in obesity since the late 1980s.” (Read more) (Growth of Wal-Mart since 1962)

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