Are you looking to lose weight? Unfortunately, if your normal go-to is to hit the gym hard, that might not be what’s best for your waistline. Although exercising has its benefits, according to a new study, it’s influence on weight loss is minimal.
You’ve heard the saying: To lose weight you must expend more calories, aka physical activity, than you consume. According to health experts that might not be the answer because what we are consuming is working against us. Forbes reported on Friday, April 24, that an editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, written by three health experts, states that inactivity is not what is causing the spike in obesity rates: it is the overconsumption of sugar and carbohydrates found in highly processed foods that’s the problem.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease, “more than two in three adults are considered to be overweight or obese, [and] about one-third of children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 are considered to be overweight or obese.” The editorial blames the food industry for these numbers, saying that industry tactics are similar to those we previously saw from Big Tobacco regarding smoking.
To be clear, experts aren’t saying to stop exercising. They’re saying, “physical activity does not promote weight loss.” Doing physical activity helps prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and dementia. The important takeaway from the study’s findings is that the public is being told that the obesity problem is caused by the sedentary lifestyles most people live, and that it can be turned around with exercise — researchers report this does not address the main cause behind the obesity epidemic, though: the food being eaten.
London cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra, one of the experts from the editorial said, “An obese person does not need to do one iota of exercise to lose weight, they just need to eat less. My biggest concern is that the messaging that is coming to the public suggests you can eat what you like as long as you exercise. That is unscientific and wrong.”
The amount of exercise that is being done has not gone down in the past 30 years, but obesity rates have risen. The reason: many people eat highly-processed sugar and carb-dense food, which in turn is creating an epidemic.
The report states, “According to the Lancet global burden of disease reports poor diet now generates more disease than physical inactivity, alcohol and smoking combined.” And, those who are obese are not the only ones in danger. “Up to 40% of those with a normal body mass index will harbour metabolic abnormalities typically associated with obesity, which include hypertension, dyslipidaemia, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and cardiovascular disease.”
For every addition 150 sugar calories you eat per day, your chances of getting diabetes increases by 11 fold. Sugar calories advance fat storage and fat calories make the body feel full, longer.
The solution: calorie restriction, specifically sugar restriction, and not falling for celebrity-promoted messages for unhealthy foods. Eating natural food including fruits and vegetables, and a bit of exercise, is what can lead to the weight loss.
Malhotra said, “You cannot outrun a bad diet.”
But, not everyone is on board with this new claim. Ian Wright, director general at Food and Drink Federation, said, “The benefits of physical activity aren’t food industry hype or conspiracy, as suggested. A healthy lifestyle will include both a balanced diet and exercise.”
For more information on sugar consumption check out the “Fed Up” documentary. If you consume soda or juice this infographic shows how much sugar is in many popular drinks. Looking to cut the sugar? You can take the 10-Day Fed Up Challenge here.