You can’t outrun a bad diet

Our waistlines aren’t expanding because people aren’t exercising intelligently or vigorously enough. You don’t need a new personal trainer, another Insanity workout video or a more aggressive CrossFit regimen. What you need is the truth, and here it is: Exercise — no matter how many gym memberships you buy or how often you wear your Fitbit — won’t make you lose weight.

From an op-ed in The Washington Post by Aseem Malhotra, a cardiologist and consultant clinical associate to the United Kindom’s Academy of Medical Royal Colleges.

The idea that our obesity epidemic is caused by sedentary lifestyles has spread widely over the past few decades, spurring a multibillion-dollar industry that pitches gadgets and gimmicks promising to walk, run and kickbox you to a slim figure. But those pitches are based on a myth. 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. …

… Misconceptions about diet and exercise are paralyzing efforts to curb the worsening obesity crisis. The food industry has been central in pushing these misconceptions, using tactics similar to those employed by big tobacco, to elide its culpability in spreading disease. … Reuters found that the food and beverage industry spent more than $175 million on lobbying during President Obama’s first three years in office, more than doubling its spending under the last three years of George W. Bush’s administration, targeting proposals like a federal tax on sodas and stricter nutritional guidelines.

Related links:

Editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine

Timothy Noakes, runner and Chair of Exercise and Sports Science at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, on the dangers of carbohydrates

The Milbank Quarterly asks if Big Food is like Big Tobacco.


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