Dr. Michael Gregor addresses ‘how much exercise do you really need to sustain weight loss?’ and helps us determine the true causes of obesity in the US. Right now, almost two-thirds of Americans are overweight, and by 2030 more than half of our population may be clinically obese. Childhood obesity has tripled, and most of them will grow up to be overweight as well. The food industry blames inactivity. However, exercise alone isn’t going to solve the obesity epidemic. Check out the infographic to learn about the state of obesity, and where we’re headed. Plain text and video follows the infographic.
The average American child is eating the equivalent calories of a can of soda and small fry more per day now than in the 1970s. Adults? A Big Mac’s worth of calories more. That is a lot of calories. And while we’ve written before that counting calories isn’t all its cracked up to be, we’re eating more, and we’re eating worse.
So who’s to blame? Well we can blame the food industry. The food industry, however, blames inactivity. We just have to move more! Go for a quick run and then you’ve earned your Big Mac!
The food industry, however, should probably be absorbing more of the blame than they probably are. It’s not that we’re exercising less. In fact, some studies show that the level of physical activity has actually gone up slightly since the 1980s. Not by much, but it definitely didn’t go down.
No one is claiming that we should not exercise more, because that isn’t true. Exercise is good for lots of things: endorphins, endurance, injury prevention. However, with the major increase in caloric intake, exercise alone isn’t going to solve the obesity problem. In fact, you would have to walk for two hours every day, seven days a week in order to keep off those extra pounds. Most people don’t have two hours to spare in during their day.
So, if we can’t exercise enough to keep up with the extra calories and the extra pounds we are gaining, something in our diet has to change. Even just a slight decrease in BMI could have drastic effects. A 1% decrease in BMI could prevent millions of cases of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and hundreds of thousands of cases of cancer.
While we won’t argue that exercise could help to this slight drop in BMI, it’s a change in diet that will have the truly long lasting effect. If you need help eating healthy, try downloading Nutrino to get healthy meal recommendations and track progress towards your health goal. Hopefully that 50% obesity rate in 2030 projection can be proven wrong.
Video courtesy of Dr. Michael Greger and NutritionFacts.org.
 K. R. Westerterp, J. R. Speakman. Physical activity energy expenditure has not declined since the 1980s and matches energy expenditures of wild mammals. Int J Obes (Lond). 2008 32(8):1256 – 1263.
 Y. C. Wang, K. McPherson, T. Marsh, S. L. Gortmaker, M. Brown. Health and economic burden of the projected obesity trends in the USA and the UK. Lancet. 2011 378(9793):815 – 825.
 J. G. Bohlen, J. P. Held, M. O. Sanderson, R. P. Patterson. Heart rate, rate-pressure product, and oxygen uptake during four sexual activities. Arch Intern Med. 1984 144(9):1745.
 J. O. Hill, H. R. Wyatt, J. C. Peters. Energy balance and obesity. Circulation. 2012 126(1):126 – 132.
 D. M. Thomas, C. Bouchard, T. Church, C. Slentz, W. E. Kraus, L. M. Redman, C. K. Martin, A. M. Silva, M. Vossen, K. Westerterp, S. B. Heymsfield. Why do individuals not lose more weight from an exercise intervention at a defined dose? An energy balance analysis. Obes Rev. 2012 13(10):835 – 847.
 K. Casazza, K. R. Fontaine, A. Astrup, L. L. Birch, A. W. Brown, M. M. B. Brown, N. Durant, G. Dutton, E. M. Foster, S. B. Heymsfield, K. McIver, T. Mehta, N. Menachemi, P. K. Newby, R. Pate, B. J. Rolls, B. Sen, D. L. Smith Jr, D. M. Thomas, D. B. Allison. Myths, presumptions, and facts about obesity. N Engl J Med. 2013 368(5):446 – 454.
 S. Dowray, J. J. Swartz, D. Braxton, A. J. Viera. Potential effect of physical activity based menu labels on the calorie content of selected fast food meals. Appetite. 2013 62:173 – 181.
 E. R. Laskowski. The role of exercise in the treatment of obesity. Platinum Met. Rev. 2012 4(11):840 – 844.
 B. Swinburn, G. Sacks, E. Ravussin. Increased food energy supply is more than sufficient to explain the US epidemic of obesity. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 2009 90(6):1453 – 1456.
 L. Dwyer-Lindgren, G. Freedman, R. E. Engell, T. D. Fleming, S. S. Lim, C. J. Murray, A. H. Mokdad. Prevalence of physical activity and obesity in US counties, 2001-2011: A road map for action. Popul Health Metr. 2013 11(1):7.
 B. Neal. Fat chance for physical activity. Popul Health Metr. 2013 11(1):9.
 Michele Simon. 2013. Clowning Around With Charity: How McDonald’s Exploits Philanthropy and Targets Children. Eat Drink Politics.