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You can’t outrun a bad diet…

Most people looking to lose weight follow the simple formula of eating less and exercising more in order to burn more calories than are being taken in. A recent editorial published in The British Journal of Sports Medicine has argued that a bad diet is a lifestyle cause of obesity, but that a lack of exercise is not however, and suggests that “physical activity does not promote weight loss”. The research, conducted by Dr Malhotra et al, argues that while obesity has increased dramatically in the last thirty years, there has been very little change in our physical activity levels. This leads to the conclusion that it is the type and amount of calories consumed that has led to an increase in obesity, not our levels of exercise. The study shows that obesity is just the tip of the iceberg in relation to poor diet, and that this has now generated more disease than physical inactivity, alcohol and smoking combined, and that up to 40% of those with a normal BMI will have problems associated with obesity such as cardiovascular disease and hypertension. Instead, Malhotra et al argue, we are told to maintain weight through calorie counting and that many still believe obesity is the result of lack of exercise, not what we eat. This view is compounded in their eyes by corporations such as Coca-Cola who promote the message that “all calories count” and associate themselves with sports, implying that it is okay to drink sugary drinks as long as we exercise regularly. Scientific research however, has shown this not to be the case and instead has shown that it is the type of calories that matter with calories coming from sugar promoting fat storage and feelings of hunger, while calories from a source of natural fat produce feelings of fullness meaning less is eaten. The editorial ends by stating that the public health message around diet and exercise has been corrupted by big corporations and that celebrity endorsements of junk food must end. They advocate for the idea that the “healthy choice must become the easy choice” and so therefore believe gyms should set the tone and get rid of sugary drinks and junk food in their venues. There has long been the argument that fitness and weight loss goals are mainly affected by diet, but never has it been put quite as bluntly as in the editorial. We all know that a bad diet can lead to health and weight problems, but the finding that regular exercise does not promote weight loss may come as a shock to some. Exercise is not to be dismissed as it has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes among other diseases, yet as the article suggests, the research has found that you can’t simply outrun a bad diet. Sources at http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/early/2015/05/07/bjsports-2015-094911.full

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