It is time to bust the myth of physical inactivity and obesity

A recent report from the UK’s Academy of Medical Royal Colleges described ‘the miracle cure’ of performing 30?min of moderate exercise, five times a week, as more powerful than many drugs administered for chronic disease prevention and management.1 Regular physical activity reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia and some cancers by at least 30%. However, physical activity does not promote weight loss.

In the past 30?years, as obesity has rocketed, there has been little change in physical activity levels in the Western population.2 This places the blame for our expanding waist lines directly on the type and amount of calories consumed. However, the obesity epidemic represents only the tip of a much larger iceberg of the adverse health consequences of poor diet. According to The Lancet global burden of disease reports, poor diet now generates more disease than physical inactivity, alcohol and smoking combined. Up to 40% of those with a normal body mass index will harbour metabolic abnormalities typically associated with obesity, which include hypertension, dyslipidaemia, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and cardiovascular disease.3 However, this is little appreciated by scientists, doctors, media writers and policymakers, despite the extensive scientific literature on the vulnerability of all ages and all …

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