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Big Fat Lie 1 – Eat Less
Exercise and Obesity

What’s the relationship between exercise and obesity? Is it possible to diet without exercise and still lose weight? Hannah Sutter, author of Big Fat Lies, thinks so, but is she right? Juliette Kellow, BSc RD investigates . . .

Big Fat Lie 3 – Exercise and Obesity

By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD

Sutter strongly argues that we are exercising more than ever yet are still getting fatter so concludes that there is no relationship between exercise and obesity (although she recognises other health benefits of exercise and says it’s an excellent tool for weight maintenance).

Sutter also argues that most people in the UK will struggle to fit in the government’s recommended 60-90 minutes of exercise every day to achieve weight loss.

WLR’s Opinion on Exercise and Obesity . . .

At a time when we spend more hours than ever watching TV, surfing the internet, playing computer games and being employed in sedentary jobs, it’s hard to see just how we can be taking more exercise. Sutter herself points out in her book the following statistics:

  • Manual jobs have dropped from 72 percent of the workforce in 1951 to less than 45 percent in 2006
  • Desk jobs have increased from 28 percent of the working population in 1951 to almost 57 percent in 2006.

Sure, most of the big changes in employment took place before the turn of the century but it’s clear that more of us have sedentary careers than ever and even an hour of exercise a day doesn’t make up for seven hours of constant activity in a job.

As for exercise not resulting in weight loss, most health experts agree that it’s possible to diet without exercise. But a diet with exercise certainly helps to speed up the process. Sure, it takes a lot more effort to burn up 300 calories by exercising than it does to eat them, but exercise and physical activity has double benefits on obesity – firstly, it burns fat and secondly it increases muscle, which helps to increase our metabolism.

Exercise and Losing Weight . . .

Exercise has many other benefits for weight loss and obesity for example:

As Sutter points out, “exercise is an excellent tool for weight maintenance”. But it’s ludicrous to imply that people should diet without exercise and only start introducing exercise once they’ve lost weight. If your diet has included no exercise so far, chances are you won’t suddenly start once you’ve reached your goal. Interestingly, statistics from the National Weight Control Registry – a programme that tracks more than 5,000 slimmers who have succeeded at maintaining their weight loss in the long-term – show that:

Whilst 98 percent of participants modified their intake of food in some way to lose weight, 94 percent also increased their physical activity, with the most frequently reported form of exercise being walking. Furthermore, a massive 90 percent said they kept the weight off by exercising for about an hour a day.

So Does Exercise Hold The Key?

When it comes to the comment that most people would struggle to do 60-90 minutes of exercise a day to help them slim, it’s time to put things in perspective. Sutter ignores the fact that official statistics suggest us Brits watch around three hours of television a day – and we certainly don’t struggle to find time for that.

Rather than dismissing exercise as an aid to reduce obesity, surely it would be better to promote the idea of swapping some of those viewing hours for activity hours. Bottom line: we should be encouraging people to stop watching Strictly Come Dancing and instead join a class to learn how to dance!

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Trying to diet without exercise? See the direct impact of exercise on obesity and weight loss with the help of your WLR Exercise Diary. Log the exercise you do and see how many calories you could burn to help with your diet. Try it free for 24 hours.

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More Info

To find out more about the National Weight Control Registry go to www.nwcr.ws

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Start a Free Trial Today

Trying to diet without exercise? See the direct impact of exercise on obesity and weight loss with the help of your WLR Exercise Diary. Log the exercise you do and see how many calories you could burn to help with your diet. Try it free for 24 hours.

Take our FREE trial »

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