This post is a follow-up to The myth of 5 a day - people never ate that much fruit and veg.
"Because" is not a logical connective of classical logic, it's not possible to construct a truth table for "A because of B" statement. Even when A and B are true, it's really quite difficult to prove that causality flows from B to A - correlations, no matter how strong, don't prove causality.
On the other hand, while proving such statement true is hard, proving it false can be very simple - if either A or B is false, "A because of B" must necessarily be so too. So "crime is on the rise because of violent video games" can easily proven to be false, because the consequence part ("crime is on the rise") is false - therefore collapsing the whole argument before we get anywhere near analyzing causality.
some pretty good research indicating that violent movies deters violent crime, at least in short term - apparently because violence-loving young males go to theaters to watch violent movies instead of getting into real crimes. It's not too unlikely that it might be the same with violent video games.
Take a guess - what are the biggest sources of calories in American diet? Here's the list for 1961 and 2003, in kcal/day. I don't believe 1961's diets were perfect, and I'd love to have data earlier than 1961, but that's as far back as FAO statistics go.
Vegetal products consumption increased a lot - 1871 (65%) to 2708 (72%) kcal/day, while animal products consumption stayed constant in absolute terms, and decreased a lot proportionally - 1010 (35%) to 1045 (28%).
Top vegetal products:
- cereals without beer - 627 to 832 (of which wheat - 504 to 603; rice 26 to 94)
- sugar and sweeteners - 515 to 657 (of which sugar 453 to 320; HFCS 56 to 331)
- vegetable oil - 276 to 606 (of which soybean oil 157 to 492)
- alcoholic beverages - 108 to 150 (of which beer 68 to 100)
- "fruits" without wine - 79 to 117 (of which oranges 14 to 32)
- potatoes - 77 to 100
- maize (without HFCS, maize oil etc.) - 59 to 98
- "vegetables" - 63 to 77
- beans - 32 to 30
And for animal products:
- meat - 335 to 451 (of which poultry 64 to 197; pork 127 to 132; beef 125 to 115)
- whole milk - 304 to 199
- animal fat products (butter etc.) - 199 to 116
- cheese - 48 to 149
- eggs - 67 to 55
- butter - 65 to 40
- fish and seafood - 19 to 28
- Animal fat - 69g to 71g (63% to 46%)
- Vegetable fat - 40g to 83g (37% to 63%)
- Total fat - 110g to 155g
This is as far away from the conventional story as it gets. Proportionally to their diets, people eat less fat, a lot less of the supposedly "unhealthy" saturated animal fat, less milk and butter (saturated fat), vastly more "healthy" vegetable fat, more lean meat, more vegetables, more fruit. Sugar+HFCS consumption increased a lot in absolute terms, but stayed fairly constant proportionally, even decreasing slightly from 17.8% to 17.5% of all calories.
So it's not that people lack personal responsibility - people adjusted their diets to follow every single point of conventional dieting advice. To keep blaming people's eating habits for obesity epidemic is to blame the victim. You cannot claim that people are fat because they don't follow dietary advice, as they actually do!
The only alternative is that the conventional advice doesn't work. Eating more fruit and veg, switching from animal to vegetable fats, reducing proportion of fats in diet and so on - does not make you slimmer. I won't answer the question if the advice is merely useless or actually harmful in this post (causality in reverse direction) - that would require a lot of research. But we sure know it doesn't work.
I doubt that another round of minor adjustments to the advice (look at all reversals on butter vs margarine), let's say by insisting on more fish oil this time, are likely to magically make it work now, in spite of consistent track record of failure.
I don't have enough data to give you reliable advice, but the most obvious alternative would be eating reasonably-sized portions of the most delicious food you can think of. This will usually be something fairly traditional (even not necessarily from your culture), often but not always with plenty of animal products in it, and extremely rarely with much sugar or vegetable oil. If type of food doesn't matter, and only portion size does, then you can as well enjoy it, instead of torturing yourself with diets.
For the record, author of this post has BMI 23. Never trust overweight people to give you diet advice.