According to a recent study, we should stop blaming laziness and lack of exercise for the rising obesity epidemic – and turn to the real enemies: carbohydrates and sugary foods.
Researchers, who have published their results in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, believe that an unhealthy diet makes more people sick than three other leading causes combined: being physically inactive, consuming alcohol and sustaining a smoking habit.
The team of sports and cardiology experts started at the premise that even though there has been a significant increase in obesity in the last 30 years, levels of physical activity have scarcely changed. This hypothesis clearly pointed to the real culprit for our ever-growing waistlines: calories – depending on the amount and type that was consumed.
Authors, such as Dr. Aseem Malhotra, an esteemed cardiologist and supporter of the Action on Sugar campaign, wrote against the “false perception” that has been fed to the public, which says that making sure you work out is more important that making sure you eat healthy. In fact, the opposite is actually true.
All the US data that was collected on the matter showed that obesity and physical activity levels have little in common. While the former soared, the later barely saw some changes over the past 2 decades.
The same is true for Britain, where 25 percent of the adults are obese – a striking number, in comparison with 3 percent of the adult population form the 1970s. Activity levels have not been tracked as consistently during that time, but only in the 1990s and 2000s did the researchers find suggestions of increasing exercise levels.
Food industry misleads the public
The article speaks against the plethora of campaigns in the food industry that misled the public – comparing its tactics of making people believe it was not so important what they ate to the cunning strategies enforced by the tobacco industry.
At the same time, it accused the sports industry of endorsing junk foods by allowing health clubs and gyms to present unhealthy beverages and sugary snacks in a pleasant light – and even selling these products on their premises.
Instead of being healthy role models, celebrities of all kinds (even athletes) support junk food and sugary beverages. The authors declared that these practices must come to an end – and gyms should completely remove such products from their offer list.
It is unscientific and completely misleading to offer such a “healthy halo” to products who offer little to no nutritional value. That’s why the authors were set on busting the myth of obesity being caused mainly by physical inactivity. In the conclusion, they declared “You cannot outrun a bad diet.”
Professor Tim Noakes, a sports expert and specialist on marathon running, was also among the authors of the paper, and he suggested that a lot of people who are actually exercising are making a huge dietary mistake by eating too many carbohydrates.
This practice is so common in the US that even athletes are now more prone to developing type 2 diabetes – all because they follow high-carbohydrate diets.
Researchers included in their paper a recent analysis of a Lancet study; according to that, poor diet is responsible for one third of disease, while lack of physical activity, drinking and smoking combined only cover for less than a sixth of diseases.
Fact: diet and exercise work best together
However, there have been some critics that believe the researchers’ interpretation of data was a bit overboard. University of Oxford Professor of Diet and Population Health, Susan Jebb, explained that studies which compared the amount of weight lost in exercise-only and diet-only attempts suggest that dieting is the best way to go. At the same time, a program that combined both methods showed the best results.
She doesn’t support solely kicking up the exercising a notch, but instead battling obesity with changing both physical and dietary behaviors in order to improve one’s health and help them lose weight.
Catherine Collins, spokeswoman for The British Dietetic Association, said that exercise is not only good for burning calories, but also had a positive effect on the mood. This meant that people who worked out regularly were less likely to turn to chocolate or junk food for solace. This is why she deemed the paper incomplete and asked for more robust results to be given to the public.
In March 2015, Simon Stevens, director of NHS, recommended that overweight doctors and nurses should benefit from classes at Slimming World; at the same time, he said the health service should also offer cooking classes to families who struggle with obesity.
These measures are part of a radical attempt of overcoming the country’s ever-growing obesity crisis. Stevens explained that NHS staff should finally start “practicing what they preach” – and take care of their own weight before taking on the nation’s unhealthy lifestyles.
These measures appeared after NHS was accused last year of allowing more than a dozens of coffee bars, fast food restaurants, and shops to sell discounted chocolate in hospitals. Surely a hospital is no place for Subway and Burger King – and that’s exactly why medical experts urged NHS to get its act together.
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