In a fascinating and scorching editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, three authors argue that the myth that exercise is the key to weight loss – and to health – is erroneous and pervasive, and that it must end.
The evidence that diet matters more than exercise is now overwhelming, they write, and has got to be heeded: We can exercise to the moon and back but still be fat for all the sugar and carbs we consume. And perhaps even more jarring is that we can be a normal weight and exercise, and still be unhealthy if we’re eating poorly. So, they say, we need a basic reboot of our understanding of health, which has to involve the food industry’s powerful PR “machinery,” since that was part of the problem to begin with.
The major point the team makes – which they say the public doesn’t really understand – is that exercise in and of itself doesn’t really lead to weight loss. It may lead to a number of excellent health effects, but weight loss – if you’re not also restricting calories – isn’t one of them. “Regular physical activity reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia and some cancers by at least 30%,” they write. “However, physical activity does not promote weight loss.”
Plus, in the last 30 years, exercise has stayed about the same, while overweight and obesity have skyrocketed. So something else must be at play – like the type of food we’re eating. That part has gotten steadily worse over the years, as highly-processed sugary foods and sodas have taken over as our go-to choices. “According to the Lancet global burden of disease reports,” they write, “poor diet now generates more disease than physical inactivity, alcohol and smoking combined.” This is a disturbing statistic. But it gets worse.
The related and larger issue is that even normal weight people who exercise will, if they eat poorly, have metabolic markers that put them at very high risk of chronic illness and early mortality. “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.”
And the crux of the issue is this: We’re continually “fed” the idea that all that’s behind the rise in obesity is lack of exercise, or sedentariness.
There have certainly been a lot of studies and popular articles suggesting that sitting is our downfall. Instead of effective messages about diet and health that science actually knows to be true, “members of the public are drowned by an unhelpful message about maintaining a ‘healthy weight’ through calorie counting,” the team writes, “and many still wrongly believe that obesity is entirely due to lack of exercise. This false perception is rooted in the Food Industry’s Public Relations machinery, which uses tactics chillingly similar to those of big tobacco.”
What we know to be true is much simpler: “Sugar calories promote fat storage and hunger,” the write. “Fat calories induce fullness or satiation.” For every additional 150 calories in sugar (i.e., a can of soda) a person consumes per day, the risk for diabetes rises 11-fold, regardless of how much or little we exercise. The single most effective thing people can do for their weight, they write, is to restrict calories – and even more, restrict carbohydrates.
So if this is all true, and research seems to suggest it is, how will it change? It might take quite a lot of work to shift our psychology around food, especially since advertising is so saturated with the message that carbohydrates are good for us. The celebrity endorsements might need to be tweaked, the authors say, and certainly the way foods are advertised and, perhaps, created, need to be shifted. The public should be repeatedly hit with the message that whole, natural foods, where possible and affordable is the best way to go. If you’re trying to lose weight, reduce your calories (especially sugars) – don’t think exercise alone will cut it. And even if you’re normal weight, you can’t subside solely on junk and stay healthy.
The authors end with this powerful finale: “It is time to wind back the harms caused by the junk food industry’s Public Relations machinery. Let us bust the myth of physical inactivity and obesity. You cannot outrun a bad diet.”
138 NYSC members test positive for COVID-19, NCDC reveals
No fewer than than 138 members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) had so far tested positive for the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and have been isolated, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) disclosed.
NCDC also revealed that 34,685 people have been tested for coronavirus (COVID-19) across all the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) camps in the country.
The Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, made this known on Monday at the briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
Dr. Ihekweazu added that those whose samples were collected included corps members and NYSC officials in various camps.
“We tested over the last few weeks a total, so far, of 34,785 people of which we found a total of 138 positive only.
“So, we have a total prevalence of 0.4 per cent; in fact, about one in 200 new people coming into the camps turned out to be positive.
“None of them were allowed into the camp; all of them were excluded and either managed at home or the treatment centre depending on if they had symptoms and what state they were in,” the NCDC boss added.
He also spoke about the progress made so far in the area of vaccination against the disease, noting that four vaccines had already been announced.
Dr Ihekweazu stated that while these have brought excitement, there were lots to consider to guide decisions on which to go for when they became available.
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, who also briefed reporters, gave an update on COVID-19 infections, treatment, and fatalities.
He was that Nigeria was by no means out of the woods yet and urged the people to present themselves for testing.
Dr Ehanire said the PTF would continue to keep vigilance as COVID-19 cases surge in other parts of the world.
He gave an assurance that the ministry was taking measures to ensure that vaccine security was sure once they were available for the public.
The minister also disclosed that it has been confirmed that the strange deaths in Delta and some other states were as a result of yellow fever.
Experimental COVID-19 Vaccine Shows 95% Effectiveness – Pfizer, BioNTech
Pfizer and BioNTech said Wednesday that a completed study of their experimental Covid-19 vaccine showed it was 95 percent effective.
They said the two-dose vaccine had no serious safety concerns and that the companies will apply for emergency use authorization from US regulators “within days.”
The announcement came as coronavirus cases are surging in the US and other parts of the world, and boosted hopes for an end to the pandemic that has upended life around the globe.
“The study results mark an important step in this historic eight-month journey to bring forward a vaccine capable of helping to end this devastating pandemic,” said Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla.
“With hundreds of thousands of people around the globe infected every day, we urgently need to get a safe and effective vaccine to the world,” he added.
Pfizer had said last week after a preliminary analysis that its product was more than 90 percent effective.
On Monday another biotech firm involved in the race to develop a vaccine, Moderna, said its own vaccine was 94.5 percent effective, according to a preliminary analysis.
Pfizer has previously said it expected to contact the US Food and Drug Administration to apply for an Emergency Use Authorization by the third week of November.
The FDA had imposed a requirement on Covid-19 vaccine makers of having at least two months of follow-up with volunteers after their second dose, taken 28 days after the first, in order to ensure the drugs are safe.
Moderna developed its vaccine along with the US National Institutes for Health.
Both vaccines use mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid) technology to deliver genetic material to the body that makes human cells create a protein from the virus.
This trains the immune system to be ready to attack if it encounters SARS-CoV-2.
Other vaccines that are in late-stage trials, such as one being developed by Johnson & Johnson and another by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, use modified viruses to deliver genetic material for the same purpose.
No mRNA vaccines have ever been approved, but Anthony Fauci, the United States’ top infectious disease scientist, told AFP Tuesday the technology had now “established itself.”
Oyo govt. denies cholera outbreak in community
Oyo State Government on Wednesday denied reports of alleged cholera outbreak in Lagun Village of Lagelu Local Government Area of the state, declaring that there is no evidence to back recent claims.
According to a report of the Ministry of Health’s technical committee that investigated the matter, signed by the State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Bashir Bello, the claims of cholera outbreak were unfounded.
The report, titled “Re: Rumours of suspected cholera outbreak in Lagelu LGA of Oyo State,” revealed that investigations by the state’s Epidemiological Team, including the DSNO and LGA Teams in Lagelu and surrounding LGAs, showed there is no evidence to back such rumour.
Dr. Bello in a statement issued by Mr. Taiwo Adisa, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Makinde, added that the team dispatched to carry out the investigation, was also not shown any fresh grave or fresh burial ground to ascertain claims of mass death.
The statement stated, however, that the Ministry had placed pre-positioned antibiotics and intravenous fluids at the state’s health facility in Lagun to prevent an outbreak of cholera in the area.
The Commissioner further disclosed that the state has also begun an active case search in affected communities and neighbouring states as well as community engagement and enlightenment on the prevention of diarrheal diseases including cholera.
He explained that findings from the field showed that the ailment recorded affected only four individuals and not 10 people as claimed in the media and that there was no evidence to back the claim of six deaths.
He maintained that the ailment could be ascribed to poor hygienic conditions, adding that the Ministry also suspected cases of gastroenteritis or likely food poisoning.
The report stated: “The Ministry of Health received reports of suspected cases of cholera in Lagun Village on Friday, 6th of November, 2020. Following the notification, the state and the LGA surveillance network began intensified action at investigation and response, and findings from the field investigation are as follow:
“Ten (10) cases of diarrhoea and vomiting were reported to have occurred in Lagun Village by members of the community. Six of the cases were said to have died.
“But, upon investigation, no freshly dug graves were found in the said community and we only found two cases at Faith Clinic, Ejioku, and another two cases at the Lagun Rehabilitation Centre both private hospitals.
“All four cases are alive and are no longer stooling, therefore, stool samples could not be collected from them for confirmation of the aetiological agent (causative), while they have also been treated and stabilised.
“We observed poor sanitary conditions in the village, as the wells were not covered and were in poor sanitary conditions.
“We hereby confirm that with the active efforts of the state epidemiologist and his team (DNSO, LGA Team in the affected LGA and neighbouring LGAs), no real death attributable to cholera had been confirmed.
“The reported deaths were neither seen nor traceable and, therefore, cannot be attributed to cholera outbreak, as no patient within the community actually reported to any government or local government facility in the said local government.
“The ailment recorded (and deaths, if any) could be ascribed to very poor hygienic conditions and we suspect cases of gastroenteritis or likely food poisoning in the affected community.”
Speaking on preventive steps already taken by the Ministry, Bello added: “We have pre-positioned antibiotics and intravenous fluids at the General Hospital, Lagun, for care of emerging cases.
“The Ministry has also embarked on community engagement and enlightenment on prevention of diarrheal diseases including cholera.
“We have also embarked on active search in affected communities and neighbouring communities and have also alerted the neighbouring local government areas.”
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