Flakes of pastry on the gusset of her dress: daub of sugary flour stuck to her cheek. Rhubarb tart with liberal fillings, rich fruit interior. Josie Powell that was.
Physical activity has a multitude of health benefits — it reduces the risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and possibly even cancer — but weight loss is not one of them.
A growing body of scientific evidence shows that exercise alone has almost no effect on weight loss, as two sports scientists and I described in a recent editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. For one, researchers who reviewed surveys of millions of American adults found that physical activity increased between 2001 and 2009, particularly in counties in Kentucky, Georgia and Florida. But the rise in exercise was matched by an increase in obesity in almost every county studied. There were even more striking results in a 2011 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which found that people who simply dieted experienced greater weight loss than those who combined diet and exercise. […]
It’s calorie intake that is really fueling the obesity epidemic. But it’s not just the number of calories we’re eating as how we’re getting them. The sugar calories are particularly bad. […] The World Health Organization now recommends no more than six teaspoons of sugar a day for the average adult. […]
The food and beverage industry is most guilty of perpetuating the false belief that the obesity epidemic is simply due to lack of exercise, spending billions to market nutritionally poor products as “sports drinks” while simultaneously promoting the benefits of physical activity. […]
None of this means you should turn in your gym membership card. Working out will make you healthier and less susceptible to disease. No matter what your size, even 20 to 30 minutes of physical activity that breaks you into a sweat five times per week will substantially improve your health and well-being. Do what you enjoy, whether it’s dancing, cycling, sex or all three. If it’s longevity you’re after, note that elite athletes in high-intensity sports don’t live any longer than top golfers.
But if weight loss is your goal, your diet is what really needs to change. An analysis by professor Simon Capewell at the University of Liverpool revealed that poor diet (for example, eating too much junk food without enough nuts, whole grains, fruit and vegetables) now contributes to more disease and death than smoking, alcohol and physical inactivity combined.