America exports obesity problem

Spaniards gain weight as they consume more American-style fast food

American fast-food chains have exploded in the international market. Now weight gains among Europeans have been linked to their increased consumption of this kind of food, including hamburgers, pizza and sweetened soft drinks, a recent study found.

"High consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks has been associated with weight gain and obesity in the United States," wrote the authors of the study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

"This trend may also be affecting populations with different eating patterns who increasingly are adopting typical U.S. dietary patterns."

Investigators explored the effects of soft drinks and other fast foods on more than 7,000 middle-aged and well-educated Spanish men and women over two years.

About one half the group gained weight over that period. The study also showed significant, but weaker, links between weight gain and consumption of red meat and sweetened fruit juice.

The authors emphasized that fast foods are generally fibre-free and consumers ultimately lose the benefit of a traditional Mediterranean diet to prevent weight gain.

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