In the world Olympic event for obesity, apparently the US has been dethroned.
Turns out in the “Australia’s Future Fat Bomb” Report as splashed across The Age newspaper that Aussies have put in a gold medal winning performance. This report finds that 26% of Australians are obese (BMI >30 ie significantly overweight) just pipping the US at 25%.
And Aussies haven’t even got the same extent of Super-Super-Size me options yet.
Australia, we can do better!
Seriously, if we are to believe the “eat less, exercise more” mantra then this result is a fluke.
In terms of eating Australia seems to still be behind the US in oversized meals, take-away lifestyle, and the plethora of “diet” food alternatives to help us out.
And in exercise terms most of Australia has a much more favorable climate for participating in sport and getting out and being active than much of the US. Not much snow to keep most Australians stuck indoors for a winter.
I even understand that the levels of exercise activity and participation in sport in Australia have slightly increased over the past decade, so the trend is that Aussies should be getting thinner, shouldn’t they?
When 7 out of 10 middle-aged men, and 6 out of 10 middle aged women are overweight or worse (ie BMI >25) then epidemic is a reasonable word.
So what is really going on?
My suggestion is that the seemingly obvious idea of “eat less, exercise more” idea is actually deeply flawed.
The calories in, calories out model of human bodies is incorrect. We are not machines.
Just take the most obvious example – calories out with exercise.
How much weight do you lose by exercising?
What do gyms tell you? What do “health experts” make you believe? What are you hoping for when you start on an exercise program?
Forget theoretical calorie counting, what’s the reality?
Well fortunately this is an easy piece of scientific research, and the studies have been done many times and the collated results over many good quality studies show a consistent result…
You will lose, on average, 1 kilogram or about 2-3 pounds.
And that’s not per week or per month, that’s forever.
This comes from the most well-reputed body for summarizing medical research, and the studies are consistent all the way from 3 month programs out to a full year…
But there is a slight ray of hope.
If you increase to really vigorous exercise you can make it 1.5 kilograms or almost 4 pounds of weight loss. Yeah, go kill yourself for that extra pound!
Exercise is great for improving fitness, living longer, toning up and improving mood, but it’s yet another disappointment for most people in trying to lose weight.
Once gyms face up to this fact, they will stop having the reputation of churn and burn, and will start realistically informing people of what results to expect. The first gym that seriously does this will remove much of the “buyer’s remorse” in gym memberships, and also build a lasting trust with their clients. It’s a slower dollar, but more repeat business.
That’s just the “calories out” side of the equation.
I have been taking the last couple of months to do free public talks about the “Myths and Facts of Weight Loss”.
Exercise for weight loss is one of the most pervasive myths around, and yet it is one of the easiest to answer in the literature.
If you are current taking advice about your weight, does your health expert know these facts about exercise?
Most either overstate the weight loss you can expect, or they give vague and “it depends” answers. The results however are clear. The “exercise myth” is my test for whether someone is advising based on the research, or based on beliefs.
If you want to know what to do instead of exercise and “eating less”, then follow the 4 habits/rules from this book I reviewed.
If you are in Australia, I can send you a book direct rather than from Amazon in the US. Just email or phone me.
If you are even closer to home for me in Adelaide, and want to be notified of future public talks, events and more, then you can enter your details here…
Either way, you’ll be hearing more about this.
-Dr Martin Russell