Oct 5, 2021
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For obese people, exercise alone may be better than weight loss.

The prevalence of obesity has been steadily increasing for several decades. Accordingly, more and more people are trying to lose weight: over the past 40 years, the number of such attempts has tripled. Scientists state that these massive efforts have not yet been able to stop the obesity epidemic. What’s more, people who lose and gain weight multiple times have an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Scientists are raising the question of whether weight loss programs should be the main method of treating obesity and preventing its consequences. The main alternative is to focus not on losing weight, but on other aspects of the health benefits of exercise. The authors of a recently published review analyzed the available studies that raised questions about the effect of this approach.

Professor Glenn Gaesser of Arizona State University and Dr. Siddhartha S. Angadi of the University of Virginia analyzed a wealth of data on the effects of exercise, diet, fitness programs, longevity, and health on obesity. The review included more than 200 meta-analyzes that combined data from many studies covering tens of thousands of people.

The review authors concluded that obese people who have been sedentary can reduce their risk of premature death by 30% or more if they start exercising. They will achieve this effect, even if they fail to lose weight. Scientists have found that in this case, the risk of early death will be lower than in people with nominally normal weight, but in poor physical shape.

On the other hand, most studies show that with weight loss, the risk of death is reduced by 16%, and even then not always.

  • Don’t skip breakfast.
  • Eat regularly, preferably at the same time.
  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables.
  • Increase your physical activity. Choose a look that is convenient for you and include it in your routine.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Eat more fiber-rich foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes).
  • Read food labels, pay attention to calories. This will help you make healthy choices.
  • Use smaller plates and eat slowly. This will help you learn to eat smaller portions without getting hungry.
  • Don’t completely eliminate any foods. Within a certain amount of calories, you can eat “forbidden” food from time to time.
  • Do not store chocolates, cookies, sugary drinks, or other junk food at home. This will reduce their consumption.
  • Drink less alcohol.
  • Plan your diet for each meal. This will help not to “go over” with calories.

Source – NHS

Scientists emphasized that people who exercise, even with formally undefeated obesity, can reduce the amount of visceral (internal) fat, which is especially dangerous to health. This can lead to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and more.

Another effect of exercise is changes in the metabolism of fat cells and in the regulation of their activity. Their insulin sensitivity may increase (and consequently the risk of diabetes and heart disease may decrease) even if obesity persists. That is, exercise seems to be able to make fat healthier.

The review authors believe that in obese people, sustained high physical activity is much more beneficial in reducing the risk of death than focusing on weight loss.

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