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Is Lack of Exercise a Cause of Overweight and Obesity Epidemic
There are two schools of thought
Exercise Has NothingTo Do With Weight
Many health professionals say there is little connection between exercise and weight. In fact, they say, exercise can lead to weight gain, due to increase in muscle size. Of course, exercise is fantastic for health in other ways. Just of little or no help in weight reduction or maintenance.
Despite it having little bearing on weight, everyone, who can, should exercise! This is so irrespective of whether or not they lose weight as a consequence. The benefits of exercise are so large that it would be foolish to miss out on them. See here for the Benefits of Exercise.
Exercise Has Everything To Do With Weight
In the past, we "moved" far more than now. Movement is exercise, whether it is playing a game of tennis or taking the stairs at work.
- Many jobs were less sedentary. Not so mechanised as now. There were fewer or no computer screens for employees to sit in front of all day.
- TV was a less entertaining, specially when it was still black and white. People hadn´t yet got into the habit of spending a large part of their leisure time slumped in front of the TV.. Now, people are watching the TV screen even at meal-times.
- Now, when people are home, if they are not in front of the TV screen, then they are probably sitting at a computer. This is particularly true of children.
- There were also fewer appliances taking the physical effort out of routine jobs about the house. Cleaning the house, cutting the grass.....
- It was not yet "normal· to get the car out even to go short distances.
Additionally, the claims that the alarming increase in overweight and obesity are due to an increase in consumption of calories are wrong. The consumption of calories and, in particular, of sugar has actually gone down over the last few decades. This certainly seems to be the case in the UK, say. This decrease in average daily calorie consumption has been more than compensated by the large decrease in the number of calories burned by movement.
The results of a study on the causes of obesity, published in August 2014, caused a lot of controversy. See below: "The Fat Lie".
This surprising Report was written by a sometimes-controversial journalist, Christopher Snowdon, and published by the Institute of Economic Affairs ("IEA"). The IES is a London-based think tank, which promotes a free market economic system.
This Report argues that the cause of the obesity crisis afflicting the UK, and many other countries, is due to a lack of exercise or physical activity. It has little to do, they say, with calorie consumption, given that this has decreased over recent years.
The statistics in the Report show a significant decline in total calorie consumption over the last 40 years. Also, a decline in sugar consumption since 1992. (21% and 16% respectively.) The Report refers to a 2 kilo rise in average English adult body weight since 2002. In this same period, calorie consumtion fell by 4.1% and sugar was down 7.4%.
Questions have been raised regarding whether or not the IEA receives funding from major food companies.
The Report is full of equally surprising statistics. If true, the generalised blaming of the obesity crisis on overconsumption, in particular of sugar, would seem to be wrong. It is also interesting that most of the statistics quoted are, apparently, supported by credible bodies. These include the governmental Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs ("DEFRA") and also the British Heart Foundation.
The big majority of experts continues to believe that the obesity crisis is mainly caused by overconsumption in particular of sugar. They dismiss the apparent fall over the years in total calorie consumption and sugar consumption as being a reflection of mis-reporting by the public of what they have eaten and drunk. As overweight and obesity have increased, they say, so has the under-reporting of consumption increased.
More Dissent From the Majority View
The Snowdon Report was not alone, in blaming lack of "movement" (exercise) for obesity
UK Daily Mail Report May 16th, 2016
"Professors from Florida Atlantic University have written an editorial in which they conclude regular exercise bears the closest resemblance to a 'magic bullet' to combat the worldwide epidemic of obesity and cardiovascular disease".
(Editorial published in the journal Cardiology.)
Read the article here.
Barclay, A.W. and Brand-Miller, J. The Australian Paradox
The USA government health agencies´ report on the controversial Australian study headlined their report:
"A Substantial Decline in Sugars Intake over the Same Timeframe that Overweight and Obesity Have Increased"
See USA health agencies report on this here.
Conclusion: Exercise and Weight Are Connected!
The topic is interesting! It is surprising that there should be such a wide range of views amongst experts as to whether exercise is helpful for losing weight.
However, for those wanting to lose, or just maintain, weight it is less of a problem. It is best to assume that there is, in fact, a connection between weight and exercise. Assume that it is not true that any weight lost through exercise will be put on again through feeling hungrier and increased muscle mass. People who start to exercise more than they have in the past find that they have lost some weight. One frequently hears about what a large amount of exercise has to be done to burn a miniscule number of calories. But the effect is cumulative. Even if you only burn an extra 100 calories a day through an increased level of exercise, that´s still 3.000 extra calories a month. Nearly a pound - almost 12 pounds over a year. Walking between a mile and two miles is enough to burn 100 calories for most people.
Irrespective of weight, there are other overwhelming reasons for engaging in exercise. For the other benefits that exercise brings (see here). An additional very strong reason for anyone who wants to lose weight to exercise is morale. Exercise brings with it a tremendous boost in energy and optimism. A determination to make the weight loss plan work. To lose the desired weight!