New Research: Obesity Caused by Over-Eating, NOT Under-Excercise

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A new study presented recently at the European Congress on Obesity claims, in no uncertain terms, that the almost exclusive reason for the rising rates of obesity in the western world are excess caloric intake, and NOT lack of exercise. From Food Navigator:

The study’s leader, Professor Boyd Swinburn, chair of population health and director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention at Deakin University in Australia, said: “There have been a lot of assumptions that both reduced physical activity and increased energy intake have been major drivers of the obesity epidemic…This study demonstrates that the weight gain in the American population seems to be virtually all explained by eating more calories. It appears that changes in physical activity played a minimal role.”

The researchers took a sample of 1,399 adults and 963 children and tested how many calories they burned in free-living conditions. They were then able to establish what their calorie intake would need to be in order to maintain a stable weight or, for the children, to maintain a normal growth curve. They then used national survey data of US weights in the 1970s and early 2000s and compared actual weight gain to expected weight gain if food were the only factor.

The results suggested that children are just as active as they were in the 70s, and increased energy intake alone accounts for higher average weights today, the researchers said.

For adults, on the other hand, Swinburn said that exercise had actually increased over the past 30 years, leading to an average weight gain of 18.9lbs (8.6kg). If adults had not increased levels of physical activity, extra energy intake would have led to a gain of 23.8lbs (10.8kg), he said.

“Excess food intake still explains the weight gain, but that there may have been increases in physical activity over the 30 years that have blunted what would otherwise have been a higher weight gain,” Swinburn said.

Read the entire article…

A quick reminder – 65% of Americans are classified as overweight, and half of those, or a third of the total population are considered obese.

What you need to know:

This is a blow to the beverage and  food industry. For years, manufacturers have claimed that people are not getting fat because of their processed foods, but rather due to their sedentary lifestyle. That’s why Coca Cola and others encourage increase in physical activity. Seems likes the encouragement has worked.

So why are we getting fatter?

Could it be because everywhere we go we are given easy opportunities to consume food? At the gas station, book store, workplace vending machines, schools, health club, etc…

And if it’s not food or drinks, then it’s an ad for food and drink.

It seems that there is no escape from junk food, liquid candy, and snacks in the western world. You really need to be on guard all day, every day, to stamp out the constant temptations from getting the better of you.


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  • Ke

    I eat nothing but wild berries, vegetables, raw tree nuts, and tons of all kinds of meat except pork everyday. I exercise only 1 hour a day and I consume well over 3000 calories a day, yet I have around 6% body fat.

    Overeating does not cause obesity; overeating of bad food is what causes obesity.

    I like how this site exposes the FDA and many of the supermarket brands. You guys are doing a good job, but please leave the nutrition science to the real scientists.