You are what you eat

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You cannot outrun a bad diet.

Physical activity is not the way to tackle obesity, doctors say. Consuming excess sugar and carbohydrates is a bigger problem than lack of exercise, so the public health message should focus more on unhealthy eating. A recent editorial piece in the British Journal of Sports Medicine has said it is time to “bust the myth” about exercise and obesity.

There are certain sections of the food industry that seem to promote the notion that exercise can counteract the impact of an unhealthy diet. We know that physical activity and regular exercise can help us to avoid the onset of conditions such as heart disease or diabetes, but exercise alone is not the key to losing weight.

The public health message around diet and exercise, and their relationship to obesity, seems to have been corrupted by marketing messages from brands with a more commercial motive. We see numerous marketing campaigns for all sorts of nutrient-deficient products; often associating their product with a sports brand, suggesting it’s ok to consume as long as you exercise.

London cardiologist, Dr Aseem Malhotra, blames the food industry for encouraging the belief that exercise could somehow counter the effects of an unhealthy diet. Other experts described their tactics as “chillingly similar” to those of the tobacco industry on smoking, also saying that celebrity endorsements of sugary drinks, and the association of junk food and sport, must end. Dr Malhotra said: “My biggest concern is that the messaging that is coming to the public suggests you can eat what you like as long as you exercise. That is unscientific and wrong. You cannot outrun a bad diet.”

We are all individuals and we gain and lose weight differently, but maintaining a healthy body weight is all about a balanced diet and an active lifestyle. Anyone should be able to lose excess weight simply by understanding what their body needs and creating healthy food combinations. With the right nutrition, our bodies will revert to their natural weight.

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