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Shanthy Bowman views a bar chart of comparative fat intakes that is displayed on a computer screen. Link to photo information
Nutritionist Shanthy Bowman compares total and saturated fat intakes of overweight and normal-weight adults. Click the image for more information about it.

Lifestyle Factors Play Key Role in Weight Control

By Rosalie Marion Bliss
March 29, 2006

It’s no surprise that watching hours of TV and not exercising have been linked to being overweight. Now, a study led by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) nutritionist Shanthy A. Bowman provides data that will give couch potatoes a reason to get up and get moving. She found that adults who watched more than two hours of TV on both of two survey days were about twice as likely to be overweight as adults who didn't watch TV on both survey days.

Bowman is with the ARS Community Nutrition Research Group, part of the ARS Beltsville (Md.) Human Nutrition Research Center. The study was described in a chapter she authored in a book titled Body Mass Index: New Research, published by Nova Science Publishers. The chapter is called “Dietary and Lifestyle Practices of Normal Weight and Overweight U.S. Adults.”

Bowman analyzed dietary intake data obtained from more than 8,500 adults through USDA’s national nutrition monitoring system over the years from 1994 to 1996. The survey data were collected by ARS interviewers on two nonconsecutive days.

Overall, overweight adults—as compared to normal-weight adults—not only consumed about 100 more calories a day, but also ate most of those extra calories at supper time.

The study also showed that adults who skipped breakfast compensated for the energy shortfall by eating foods high in fat and/or added sugar throughout the rest of the day.

Another trend noted in the study is also of concern. Nearly 60 percent—a relatively high percentage—of the overweight adults identified in the study did not always remove the skin when they ate chicken. Nutritionists recommend removing skin from chicken to reduce fat intake without compromising the nutritional quality of the meat.

Read more about these findings in Agricultural Research magazine’s March 2006 issue, which focuses on ARS obesity research.

ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific research agency.