A new study by a group of Austrailian researchers found that obesity in Americans is caused by overeating, not inactivity.
My friend Bill tipped me off via email to this unbelievable story. (Tongue deeply inserted into cheek.) Here's what Bill wrote to me in the email:
"Lovely." I replied.
This was found to be especially true for children. For my book Strong Kids Healthy Kids I scoured the research and, lo and behold, I could not find a single study that supported inactivity as a cause for adolescent obesity. In fact, research revealed that obese kids were just as active as lean kids.
Said Boyd A. Swinburn, a professor at the health faculty of Australia's Deakin University:
If you all recall, Bob Greene (Oprah's trainer) argued this point with me Clearly Bob had not read any of the research. Bob insisted that research clearly shows that physical activity is necessary for kids to lose fat and inactivity is one of the main causes of the alarming rate of fat gain in kids today. 'Fraid not.
The researchers found that American adults actually weighed less than could be expected from their diet. Swinburn remarked:
That's one way to look at it. However, there are almost no studies that support the idea that increasing physical activity will result in weight loss. The ACSM and the American Heart Association had this to say in the 2007 updated recommendations for physical activity and public health Aha exercise recs 2007:
“It is reasonable to assume that persons with relatively high daily energy expenditures would be less likely to gain weight over time, compared with those who have low energy expenditures. So far, data to support this hypothesis are not particularly compelling.”
My guess is that Americans have NOT increased their physical activity a jot. Rather, an increase in carbohydrate consumption is the cause of the added fat gain despite the total calories not adding up. We know from recent research that isocaloric diets of different carbohydrate amounts yield different gains in adiposity. In other words, people gain more fat on non-reduced, isocaloric diets that are higher in carbohydrates. Put simply carbs make you fatter than calories from fat and protein. In other, other, words, a calorie is not a calorie.
And we know that carbohydrate intake has increased dramatically from the recent NHANES figures. In fact since 1971, carb intake is up in men and women by a whopping 23% and 38% respectively.
I am tickeld thin by this recent study and perhaps now we'll be able to get somewhere in the fight against obesity especially for kids.
Let's ride into the sunset of health in the direction science says the horse is going.