Obesity is one of those topics that everybody has an opinion on, so it’s no wonder that there are so many obesity myths! While being a controversial topic keeps obesity on the front pages, it can also make it difficult to sort out the facts from the fiction, and makes fighting obesity more difficult. A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine aimed to crush the top obesity myths: here’s what it revealed.
We’ve all heard that sex is great exercise, and that proves true time and time again. Getting hot and sweaty with your partner is a great way to use muscles and expel energy, and you are sure to get a mood boost too – but the study found that some calorie claims were very exaggerated. One weight loss website claimed that a roll in the hay burnt 300 to 400 calories – but the study found that “average” sex lasts six minutes and burns 21 calories. This has to be one of the saddest obesity myths to bust…
Many of the popular diet programs insist that by making small changes to your diet and lifestyle and then prolonging them over your lifetime, you’ll keep the weight off. But while small changes are a good start, you do need to keep pushing your body. The human body is so adaptable that small attempts to cut calories don’t have the same impact over time. So why all the incorrect claims? The scientists put it down to the frequently quoted “3,500 calorie” rule. The fact is, 3,500 doesn’t always equal a pound, and you’ll need to continually push your body to keep seeing results.
Thinking that school gym classes will keep your child in shape? Don’t. The aim of these classes is to get kids moving, burn energy and teach them new sports – but the lessons are typically not long enough, frequent enough or intense enough to have a real impact on obesity. It’s up to parents to find activities that will keep their children moving, and feed a balanced diet that’ll stop weight gain.
We’ve all seen those stories – a dieter finds motivation and determination they didn’t know they had, and loses a ton of weight all at once. And then come the invariable comments about gaining it all back, and that losing modest amounts over an extended period is more successful. But it seems that’s not true – the study found that while 80% of dieters regain some weight regardless of how they lost weight, those who lost weight quicker tend to settle at a lower weight than the slower dieters.
The study looked into the results of a number of studies that were said to suggest that snacking will lead to weight gain. They found no suggestion that the act of snacking itself did lead to a higher weight, or that it slowed weight loss – although what you are snacking on, and how much you consume, will alter the results here. The study concludes that no “high-quality” studies could be found that back up the feeling that snacking is bad.
This one’s always been a biggie – do you take ten minutes extra in bed, or drag yourself downstairs to eat cereal? While it’s always been an easy meal to skip, it’s long been reported that not eating breakfast leads to weight gain. Two recent studies, cited in this journal, found that eating breakfast had no effect on weight. One study concluded that this could be dependent on whether someone is used to skipping breakfast or not.
Whether they are exercise goals or weight loss targets, we are always being told to set small, achievable and trackable goals. Why? Well, big goals are harder to achieve, and require a great deal more effort. Smaller goals are easier to achieve, and that success will spur you on to keep going…or that’s the theory. The New England Journal of Medicine found that setting big goals can actually motivate and boost success, and that bigger goals weren’t necessarily more likely to fail.
Of course, this type of study doesn’t come without it’s criticisms. Some of the authors have close ties with fast food companies and weight-loss products, which has caused concern. In fairness, though, the report does recommend exercise (for a whole host of health reasons, as well as for weight loss) and medical professionals such as Dr David Ludwig, a prominent obesity researcher from Boston Children’s Hospital, agreed with the points. Do you know any obesity myths you’d like to see publicly busted? Let me know!
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