People overeat and gain weight for many reasons. One major cause is eating too many calories.

That being said, certain foods are more problematic than others, including processed foods high in added fat, sugar, and salt.

Here’s a list of 10 foods that are highly fattening.

1. Soda

Sugary soda may just be the most fattening thing you can put into your body.

Sugar-sweetened drinks don’t provide essential nutrients and add many empty calories to your diet (1).

Studies show that people who drink sugary soda are much more likely to gain weight than people who don’t (2, 3).

One study found that people who drank soda on top of their normal diet consumed 17% more calories. Over time, this could easily lead to significant weight gain (4).

Drinking soda may not only increase your risk of obesity but also type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer (5, 6, 7, 8).

SUMMARY Sugary soda adds no essential nutrients to your diet, just empty calories. People who drink soda are much more likely to gain weight.

2. Sugar-sweetened coffee

Coffee can be a very healthy beverage.

However, coffee sweetened with added sugar or syrup can contain as much sugar as a can of Coke.

Like soda, high-sugar coffee drinks could have disastrous effects on your waistline and health (9, 10, 11).

SUMMARY Coffee drinks sweetened with syrups or sugars are very high in calories. Regularly drinking them could contribute to weight gain.

3. Ice cream

Most commercially made ice cream is full of sugar and fat. Since it’s often eaten as a dessert, ice cream can add a lot of extra calories to your meal.

If you enjoy ice cream, it’s probably best as an occasional treat.

To choose a healthier ice cream, look for one with less than 15 grams of sugar per serving. Also, make sure to watch your portion sizes.

SUMMARY Most ice creams are high in sugar and fat, adding a lot of extra calories to your meal.

4. Takeaway pizza

Commercially prepared pizzas are one of the most popular junk foods, especially among young people and kids (12).

Pizzas are usually very tasty but high in fat, refined carbs, and calories.

Some of the most popular varieties are also made with large amounts of cheese and processed meat.

Processed meats are meats that have been cured, salted, or smoked.

A high intake of these meats has been linked to obesity and an increased risk of adverse health conditions like heart disease and some cancers (13, 14, 15, 16, 17).

However, not all pizza is created equal.

If you love pizza, try to find a pizzeria that uses healthier ingredients, such as vegetables and whole-grain dough. You can also make your own pizza at home (18, 19, 20).

SUMMARY Commercially prepared pizza can be loaded with calories and processed meats. Try choosing pizza made with healthier ingredients or make your own at home.

5. Cookies and doughnuts

Cookies and doughnuts contain high amounts of sugar, refined flour, and added fats.

They can be extremely high in calories. To keep your weight in check, you should limit your intake.

When cravings strike, go for a small, single serving, not a giant cookie or a whole pack of little ones.

This can help you enjoy a treat and limit the excess calories and sugar you consume (21, 22, 23).

Also, an average medium-sized doughnut may contain over 200 calories. Some glazed varieties pack more than 300 calories.

For optimal health and weight, doughnuts should be avoided as much as possible.

SUMMARY Cookies and doughnuts are high-calorie, high-sugar foods. If you choose to eat them, keep your portions small.

6. French fries and potato chips

French fries are a popular choice of snack or side, particularly when eating out.

However, the average serving (5 ounces or 139 grams) typically contains about 427 calories, making them a high-calorie food.

Most commercial French fries are also high in fat and salt, increasing your risk of overeating (24, 25, 26).

What’s more, they often accompany other junk foods and are commonly eaten with high-sugar sauces like ketchup.

This means you’re eating a very high number of calories in one sitting, which can lead to weight gain. In fact, several studies link eating French fries to weight gain (27, 28).

Like French fries, potato chips are very high in fat, refined carbs, and salt.

They have also been associated with weight gain in observational studies. One study even found them to be the food most likely to cause weight gain (29).

Boiling or baking potatoes is much healthier.

SUMMARY French fries and potato chips are very high in added fats, refined carbs, and salt. Studies link both foods to weight gain.

7. Peanut butter

Moderate amounts of peanut butter can be healthy.

This is particularly true if it’s only made with wholesome ingredients like roasted and ground peanuts and a little salt.

In fact, eating nuts and peanuts has been linked to reduced weight and better health (30, 31, 32, 33, 34).

However, commercially prepared peanut butter often contains added sugar, hydrogenated vegetable oils, and a lot of salt, making it rather unhealthy (35, 36, 37).

Peanut butter is also extremely high in calories and very easy for some people to overeat.

If you can limit your intake, including peanut butter in your diet shouldn’t be a problem. However, if you struggle to control your portions, then you may need to avoid it.

SUMMARY Most commercially made peanut butter contains added sugars and fats. It can easily make you gain weight if eaten in excess.

8. Milk chocolate

Dark chocolate has been linked to numerous benefits, including improved heart health and brain function (38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43).

Still, most commercially produced milk and white chocolate varieties are loaded with added sugar and fat.

Like other junk foods, they’re very easy to overeat.

SUMMARY Unlike dark chocolate, milk and white chocolate varieties contain a lot of added sugar. Plus, chocolate is highly palatable and very easy to overeat.

9. Fruit juice

Fruit juice is often seen as a healthy choice.

Nonetheless, most commercial brands contain just as much sugar as soda. They also lack fiber and other nutrients found in whole fruits (44, 45).

Drinking excessive amounts of fruit juice has been linked to an increased risk of obesity, especially in children (46, 47, 48).

Whole fruit is a much healthier and more weight-loss-friendly choice (49, 50, 51).

If you want to include fruit juice in your diet, choose unsweetened, 100% fruit juice and keep your portion size to a maximum of 5 ounces (150 ml) per day (52, 53).

SUMMARY Fruit juice is high in sugar. Drinking excessive amounts has been linked to an increased risk of obesity.

10. Other commercially processed foods

The increased consumption of convenience food may be partially to blame for the obesity epidemic (54, 55, 56, 57).

Not all processed foods are unhealthy, but many have been manufactured to look and taste like real food though they bear little nutritional resemblance to homemade meals (58).

Therefore, it’s important to read the food label.

Some types of processed foods have been linked to higher calorie intakes and poorer diet quality (59, 60).

Reducing your intake of processed foods could help you avoid unnecessary calories and improve the quality of your diet.

SUMMARY Reducing processed foods high in added fat, sugar, and salt can improve the quality of your diet and help prevent weight gain.

The bottom line

People gain weight because they eat more calories than they burn.

It should be noted that no single food on this list will make you fat if enjoyed occasionally, as part of a balanced diet.

However, regular and excessive consumption of these foods will likely make you gain weight over time.