Experts Say Excess Sugar and Carbs, Not Physical Inactivity, are the Cause of Obesity Surge

Experts Say Excess Sugar and Carbs, Not Physical Inactivity, are the Cause of Obesity Surge

According to a recent editorial published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, excess sugar and carbs, not physical inactivity, are behind the surge in obesity.

According to the authors, it is important to break the belief that anyone, even athletes, can outrun the effects of a bad diet.

Although regular physical exercise has been found to be key to the prevention of serious conditions such as dementia, heart disease and diabetes, diets high in calories are associated with more health-related problems than alcohol, smoking and physical inactivity combined.

Current evidence supports that up to 40% of those within a normal weight (BMI) range will have less damaging metabolic abnormalities usually associated with obesity.

However, the majority of people believe that obesity is associated with a lack of physical exercise, a belief rooted in corporate marketing, according to the authors.

As the authors mentioned, food industry tactics are similar to those adopted by those of Big Tobacco, which implemented doubt, denial, confusion and “bent scientists” to persuade the public that smoking was not associated to lung cancer.

“Celebrity endorsements of sugary drinks and the association of junk food and sport must end,” they declared in a recent news release, adding that health clubs and gyms need to set an example by removing the sale of these products from their premises. “The ‘health halo’ legitimization of nutritionally deficient products is misleading and unscientific,” they wrote.

Public health messaging has adversely been focused on the importance of maintaining a ‘healthy weight’ through calorie counting, however, its is the source of the calories that matters, as the authors said. “Sugar calories promote fat storage and hunger. Fat calories induce fullness or satiation,” they wrote.

The prevalence of diabetes increases 11-fold for every 150 additional sugar calories consumed daily, compared with the equivalent amount of calories consumed as fat, they said.

Evidence supports that carbohydrates are no better, as recent studies suggests that cutting down on carbs is effective for diminishing metabolic syndrome and should be the prime strategy for treating diabetes, with benefits occurring even without weight loss.

Other studies have indicated that athletes should adopt a high fat low carb diet, especially those who are insulin resistant, rather than focus on carb loading ahead of intense exercise.

The food environment needs to be changed so that people make healthy choices, suggested the authors in the news release. This “will have far greater impact on population health than counseling or education. Healthy choice must become the easy choice,” they said.

“It’s time to wind back the harms caused by the junk food industry’s public relations machinery. Let’s bust the myth of physical inactivity and obesity. You can’t outrun a bad diet,” they concluded in the news release.

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