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Exercise 'not key to obesity fight'

In an editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, three international experts said it was time to "bust the myth" about exercise. They said while activity was a key part of staving off diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and dementia, its impact on obesity was minimal. Instead excess sugar and carbohydrates were key.

But despite this public health messaging had "unhelpfully" focused on maintaining a healthy weight through calorie counting when it was the source of calories that mattered most - research has shown that diabetes increases 11-fold for every 150 additional sugar calories consumed compared to fat calories.

What the 'experts' say

Dr Malhotra

"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. You cannot outrun a bad diet."

Prof Mark Baker (NICE)

It would be "idiotic" to rule out the importance of physical activity.

Ian Wright, director general at Food and Drink Federation

"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." He said the industry was encouraging a balanced diet by voluntarily providing clear on-pack nutrition information and offering products with extra nutrients and less salt, sugar and fat. "This article appears to undermine the origins of the evidence-based government public health advice, which must surely be confusing for consumers," he said.


What do Healthcare RM say?

Healthcare RM Nutritionist:

The BBC are correct in saying that you cannot outrun a bad diet and with all the media attention obesity is getting at the moment, I am pleased to read something that suggests its not just about exercise and that diet is as important, if not more important, for obese individuals to lose weight. I think one of the main contributing factors to the rise in obesity in this country is down to a lack of understanding for the general public coupled with constant contradictory articles in media today.

Losing or maintaining weight is a simple process that is complicated so often, It doesn’t require any ‘fad’ or ‘celeb’ diets it just requires your energy expenditure to be higher than your energy input (your calories consumed should be lower than the calories burned).  Yes, by all means, you can lose weight on diet alone, and it has been proven by many, however, as the BBC rightly state, exercise is vital to help with other conditions such as cardiovascular health,  cholesterol lowering as well as playing a huge part in maintaining a healthy weight. It would be great to see more media attention on combining both exercise and diet as well as educating their readers on what is really meant by a ‘balanced diet’  as this is key to optimum health.

Healthcare RM's Health & Wellbeing Director:

When dealing with an obese individual, it is often difficult and taxing for them to move around which will cause them to burn calories and lose weight if they adhere to a nutritional plan; the BBC are absolutely right in that you cant outrun a bad diet.

In terms of improving overall health, markers such as insulin sensitivity, Cholesterol levels, circulation and cardiovascular health to name but a few of the factors that exercise plays a key part in.

When trying to manage or lose weight, it is key and critical to long term success to have a multidiscipline approach. The human body is a complex system, where we need to address all areas of health to improve the individuals personal risk factors and their health status. So in essence, there needs to be a joined up approach. Exercise is just as important to health and weight loss as nutrition. Like nutrition, it is ensuring the correct exercise is adhered to and what is appropriate for that individual based off their personal risk factors.

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