More Americans are overweight than ever. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 35 percent of all Americans are considered obese, a problem that costs $190 billion per year, according to at least one estimate.
"It's not any one big thing," Sam Kass, former White House Chef, tells CNBC's On The Money in an interview. Instead he cited several factors, including "fast food on most corners" that facilitates weight gain.
"We've seen an explosion in portion sizes. We're eating more sugar and snacks, and more overall calories," Kass said. "It's hard for people to make healthy choices, when they're surrounded by easier, bad choices."
Kass, who served as a nutrition policy advisor to President Obama said that "we're not setting ourselves up for success surrounded by unhealthy options. If it's too hard for people to eat better, they're not going to be successful," he said.
"That's what you're seeing time and time again: They try and they fail."
Against that backdrop, the health implications of the nation's growing waistline are expanding the cost on society.
Cornell University Professor John Cawley told CNBC that "$315 billion dollars is spent treating obesity in the United States every year." According to his earlier study, that accounts for 21 percent of medical care costs.
Many consumers have adopted sustainable eating habits, spending a record $39 billion on organic food, according to the Organic Trade Association. Yet too many are still eating all the wrong foods.
"We're bombarded by the "what', what you're "supposed to eat, more fruits and vegetables, whole grain, eat less, all this stuff," Kass said. Still, the population hasn't "focused on the 'how,' how you actually fit this (healthy eating) into your busy life."