Lack of exercise, not diet, is responsible for weight gain

When it comes to diabetes, so much focus is put on the dietary changes necessary to manage and/or avoid the condition.

Yet a new analysis of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) found that expanding waistlines – and perhaps the diseases that come along with that – are due to a lack of exercise, not an increase in calories.

Comprehensive effort needed to control the problem

The NHANES study found some surprising statistics about physical activity: The number of U.S. adult women who reported no physical activity jumped from 19.1 percent in 1994 to 51.7 percent in 2010. For men, the number went from 11.4 percent to 43.5 percent during the same time frame.

When it comes to eating habits, however, the researchers found that total caloric intake – or the consumption of fat, carbohydrates and protein – hasn't changed significantly over the last two decades.

"These changes have occurred in the context of substantial increases in the proportion of adults reporting no leisure-time physical activity, but in the absence of any significant population-level changes in average daily caloric intake," said lead investigator Uri Ladabaum, MD, MS, associate professor of medicine (gastroenterology and hepatology) at Stanford University School of Medicine.

Taking back control

In an accompanying commentary, managing editor of The American Journal of Medicine Pamela Powers Hannley noted that taking back control of our health as a nation involves addressing the exercise equation.

"From encouraging communities to provide safe places for physical activity to ensuring ample supply of healthy food to empowering Americans to take control of their health, we must launch a concerted comprehensive effort to control obesity," Hannley wrote.

The study also found that the average BMI has increased for both men and women, with young women between 18 and 39 seeing the most dramatic rises.

Source: Elsevier

Image credit: cbenjasuwan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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