ExerciseHealth & Fitness

Is exercise effective for weight loss?

Is exercise effective for weight loss?
(The Men who made us thin – Episode 2 – 15 August 2013)

Apparently I am controversial. I have always been baffled by how the simple message "Eat real food" can be controversial and how demanding evidence for nutritional messages is radical. Of the many things for which I am attacked, the two ones that elicit the most rage are 1) exercise and 2) five a day.

My message on exercise has always been that natural activity (not running marathons, for which humans are not well designed) has many health benefits - it's just not going to help much with weight loss. Certainly not relative to what we put in our mouths. The evolutionary rationale for this is that humans would not be here today had we not been good at both gathering and conserving energy. Either one without the other and we would have died out. The (lack of) evidence related to exercise is presented in full in Chapter 14 of The Obesity Epidemic: What caused it? How can we stop it? - neither the UK nor the USA governments can provide any compelling evidence that exercise is effective as either a prevention or cure for obesity. The final key point for me is that the food industry spend millions on perpetuating the myth that we can eat as much of their junk as we like, if only we get off our "fat, lazy backsides". That's reason enough to be vocally opposed to the exercise myth.

I won't dwell on the five-a-day here - it's all covered in this blog (http://www.zoeharcombe.com/2012/03/five-a-day-the-truth/). This post is about a programme on exercise, which gave me the joy of hearing virtually everything I have said about exercise over the past few years coming out of the mouth of one of my heroes - Jacques Peretti. Happy Thursdays for four weeks!

I'll capture the narrative of the programme in this note - as it won't be on iplayer for long - drawing out the key messages as we go along (http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b038nzyq/The_Men_Who_Made_Us_Thin_Episode_2/).

Exercise is not an effective way to lose weight

The second episode of the series "The men who made us thin" opens with Jacques Peretti attending a 'fat burning' spinning class in London. The trainer admits "It's really difficult. You're looking at five hours a week, or more, of training for this to be successful."

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