Calorie Reduction, not Exercise, Most Important for Weight Loss

New research says focusing solely on exercise is not the answer to losing weight. In an editorial published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers say excess sugar and carbs—not physical inactivity—are primarily to blame for the growing obesity epidemic. Multiple studies have proven that regular exercise has many health benefits—reducing the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and some forms of cancer by 30%; However, according to researchers, it’s our high caloric diets that lead to obesity.

But don’t settle on just counting calories; the source of the calories matters too. According to the investigators, for every additional 150 calories of sugar, there was an 11-fold increase in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes, compared to 150 calories obtained from fat or protein. These results were independent of the person’s weight and physical activity level.

“Our calorie-laden diets now generate more ill health than physical inactivity, alcohol, and smoking combined,” the investigators write. “Sugar calories promote fat storage and hunger. Fat calories induce fullness or satiation.”

They also say food marketers mislead the public with the message that
all calories count equally, and conclude that changing the food environment and our understanding of what it takes to reach a healthy weight is key to fighting the obesity epidemic.

“It’s time to wind back the harms caused by the junk food industry’s public relations machinery. Let’s bust the myth of physical inactivity and obesity,” they write. “You can’t outrun a bad diet.”

Source: Malhotra A, Noakes T, Phinney S. It is time to bust the myth of physical inactivity and obesity: you cannot outrun a bad diet. Br J Sports Med. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2015-094911

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