Apr 23, 2015

By Jane Brown

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Exercise may not be the key to fighting obesity.

fat person

In an editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, three international experts say it was time to “bust the myth” about exercise.

They say while activity is a key part of staving off diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and dementia, its impact on obesity is minimal.

The experts include London cardiologist Dr. Aseem Malhotra, who says an obese person does not need to do one iota of exercise to lose weight, they just need to eat less.

Dr. Malhotra blames the food industry for encouraging the belief that exercise could counteract the impact of unhealthy eating.  He likens their tactics as “chillingly similar” to those of Big Tobacco on smoking and celebrity endorsements of sugary drinks and the association of junk food and sport must end.

The experts also say public health messaging has been unhelpful by focusing on maintaining a healthy weight through calorie counting, when it’s the source of calories that matter most. Research has shown that diabetes increases 11-fold for every 150 additional sugar calories consumed compared to fat calories.

But others say it is risky to play down the role of exercise.  Prof Mark Baker, of the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence, which recommends “well-balanced diets combined with physical activity”, said it would be “idiotic” to rule out the importance of physical activity.

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