People can be “fat but fit” and should focus on exercise rather than dieting for a longer life, experts have said.
In a new review collating numerous studies, researchers said doing more exercise and improving fitness is more effective than just shedding pounds when it comes to getting healthy and cutting the risk of dying early.
Writing in the journal iScience, Professor Glenn Gaesser, from Arizona State University, and associate professor Siddhartha Angadi, from the University of Virginia, claimed that applying a “weight-neutral” approach to the treatment of health issues caused by obesity would also cut the health risks associated with yo-yo dieting.
Prof Gaesser said: “We would like people to know that fat can be fit, and that fit and healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes.
“We realise that in a weight-obsessed culture, it may be challenging for programmes that are not focused on weight loss to gain traction.
“We’re not necessarily against weight loss; we just think that it shouldn’t be the primary criterion for judging the success of a lifestyle intervention programme.”
The researchers said multiple studies have shown how people around the world have been trying to lose weight over the past 40 years, and yet obesity has continued to rise.
They said “a weight-centric approach to obesity treatment and prevention has been largely ineffective”, adding: “Moreover, repeated weight loss efforts may contribute to weight gain, and is undoubtedly associated with the high prevalence of weight cycling (yo-yo dieting), which is associated with significant health risks.”
The pair pointed to studies suggesting that exercise was better for a longer life than just losing weight.
They argued that “many obesity-related health conditions are more likely attributable to low physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness rather than obesity per se”.
“Epidemiological studies show that cardiorespiratory fitness and physical activity significantly…