Medical research consensus is that a poor diet is a much greater determinant of obesity than lack of exercise. However, the authors' primary research shows that only about half of lay people believe that diet is the primary cause of obesity. People who mistakenly underestimate the importance of a poor diet are in fact more overweight than people who correctly believe that it is the primary cause of obesity. The marketing, public relations, and corporate social responsibility campaigns of food and beverage companies consistently overemphasize the lack of exercise as the cause of obesity—the authors call this “leanwashing.”
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