A new study shared at an international obesity conference in Amsterdam organized by the European Association for the Study of Obesity explains that the obesity epidemic in the U.S. is due to over-eating, and that exercise could not minimize the effects of excess calories.
Research shows that a decrease in physical exercise is not the primary cause of obesity. It also appears, based on the research, that even though adults step up physical exercise, that it does not negate weight gain caused by over-eating. It was also discovered that changes in physical activity in children had no impact on their gaining weight.
For the US population to return to its leaner, 1970s self, children would have to cut their intake by about 350 calories a day -- equal to one can of fizzy drink and a small portion of French fries, and adults by about 500 calories -- the equivalent of a Big Mac burger.
Alternatively, children would have to walk for an extra two-and-a-half hours a day, and adults for nearly two hours, said Swinburn.
“Getting everybody to walk an extra two hours a day is not really a feasible option for countering the epidemic," he said.
“We need to limit our expectations of what an increase in physical activity can achieve.”
In sum, research still holds that physical exercise is necessary for overall health, but eating less is far more important.
In 2005, an estimated 1.6 billion American adults were considered overweight, with at least 400 million of them considered obese.
Source: AFP; May 8, 2009