I'm on the record with my belief that a goodly portion of those struggling with excess weight got that way by "passive overeating". It's certainly how I got my fattest in my post-ED years.
So I came across this study:
Fast-food habits, weight gain, and insulin resistance (the CARDIA study): 15-year prospective analysis
Background: Fast-food consumption has increased greatly in the USA during the past three decades. However, the effect of fast food on risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes has received little attention. We aimed to investigate the association between reported fast-food habits and changes in bodyweight and insulin resistance over a 15-year period in the USA.
Methods: Participants for the CARDIA study included 3031 young (age 18–30 years in 1985–86) black and white adults who were followed up with repeated dietary assessment. We used multiple linear regression models to investigate the association of frequency of fast-food restaurant visits (fast-food frequency) at baseline and follow-up with 15-year changes in bodyweight and the homoeostasis model (HOMA) for insulin resistance.
- Fast-food frequency was lowest for white women (about 1·3 times per week) compared with the other ethnic-sex groups (about twice a week).
- After adjustment for lifestyle factors, baseline fast-food frequency was directly associated with changes in bodyweight in both black (p=0·0050) and white people (p=0·0013).
- Change in fast-food frequency over 15 years was directly associated with changes in bodyweight in white individuals (p<0·0001), with a weaker association recorded in black people (p=0·1004).
- Changes were also directly associated with insulin resistance in both ethnic groups (p=0·0015 in black people, p<0·0001 in white people).
Interpretation: Fast-food consumption has strong positive associations with weight gain and insulin resistance, suggesting that fast food increases the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
- By comparison with the average 15-year weight gain in participants with infrequent (less than once a week) fast-food restaurant use at baseline and follow-up (n=203), those with frequent (more than twice a week) visits to fast-food restaurants at baseline and follow-up (n=87) gained an extra 4·5 kg of bodyweight (p=0·0054) and had a two-fold greater increase in insulin resistance (p=0·0083).
Presented without further analysis :-)