Eat Less, Move More – Exercise Part IV

Click here to go to Exercise Part I, Part II, and Part III.

The commonly prescribed treatment for obesity is to Eat Less and Move More.  Epic Fail is the phrase that springs to mind.  What is most interesting to me is that this  has been proven to be a complete and utter failure, yet all the medical ‘authorities’ still recommend this great big bag of suck.

We’ve discussed the failure of the Eat Less model with the Calorie Series.  We are examining the other great pillar of conventional failure – exercise.

If exercise were indeed a major weapon in the fight against obesity, you might expect that countries that exercise more would have less obesity.  You might also be wrong.  A recent 8 country survey of exercise habits was recently completed.  You’ll never guess which country exercises the most.  That’s right.  The good ol’ United States of America.

Against a global average of 112 days of exercise a year, the Americans were burning up the circuit with a whopping 135 days compared to the slovenly Dutch at 93 days/ year.  The main motivation?  Weight Loss.

So what about rates of obesity?  Glad you asked.  There’s USA way over there on the right and those non-exercising Netherlands with a rate of obesity less than 1/3 of those iron pumping Americans.

 

As the brilliant Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt of dietdoctor.com writes, “Obesity is not caused by a Lack of Exercise”.

Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent studying this Eat Less, Move More approach.  A recent publication was called the HEALTHY study.  This was published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine in 2010 and entitled “A School-Based Intervention for Diabetes Risk Reduction“.  Let’s take a closer look.

This study involved 42 schools and 4603 students in grade 6-8.  Half of the schools received the multicomponent intervention.  The other half of the schools got nothing special.  The intervention was to encourage certain nutritional and exercise goals.

The nutritional guidelines involved the usual sort of failed staple of dietary interventions – low calorie, low fat.  Several goals included:

Lower average fat content of food

Serve at least 2 servings of fruit and vegetables per student

At least 2 servings of grain based food and/ or legumes

In other word – lower calories, lower the fat, and increase the grain and vegetables/ fruits.

The exercise component was designed to increase the amount of time doing moderate to vigorous physical activity.  Sounds like our old dingleberry friend – Eat Less, Move More. Not too bright, but as familiar as an old blanket.

Since hundreds of millions of dollars were spent on the Women’s Health Initiative and we didn’t get the results we expected, perhaps we thought that spending hundreds of millions of dollars more on the same failed strategy was a good idea.  Pure, unadulterated idiocy seems relatively common in academic nutritional circles.

The primary outcome of the HEALTHY study was the combined prevalence of overweight and obese students at the end of the study.  The study itself was very rigorous and well executed.  There was good follow up out to 3 years.  At the beginning of the study, both groups had roughly 50% of the students considered overweight or obese (BMI >85th percentile).

What happened?  By the end of three years, both groups had reduced that percentage to about 45%.  In other words – there was no measurable benefit to this diet and exercise group compared to doing nothing special.  It’s virtually useless.

Keep in mind that this is not the first study to show how useless this approach actually is.  All large studies show that same pattern.  Here’s a better question.  Who hasn’t tried the Eat Less and Move More approach and failed?

The fact that exercise does not help with weight gain does not mean that exercising is not good for you, or that it should not be done.  Don’t wig out on me.  I am not saying you shouldn’t exercise.  But that doesn’t change the fact that it is of minor importance in weight control.

It is like brushing your teeth.  Should you brush your teeth?  Absolutely.  But don’t expect any weight loss.  Same thing as exercise.  Is it good for you?  Absolutely.  But don’t expect any weight loss.

These are not simply idle musings.  The health implications are enormous.  Consider the enormous sums of money being spent to promote Physical Education in the classroom, improved access to sports facilities, and improved playgrounds for children in inner city neighborhoods.  While each of these things is good, we should not expect any improvement in obesity.  They are all based on the flawed notion that exercise is important in the fight against obesity.

What happens is that we ‘take our eyes off the ball’.  If our goal is to reduce obesity, we need to focus on what makes us obese.  It is not the lack of exercise.  It is the diet.  It is What You Eat, and as we shall see in the next series – it is When You Eat.

But if we instead spend all our money, research, time and mental energy focuses on increasing exercise, we will have no resources left to actually fight obesity.  Remember the example with baseball and bunting.  While bunting is important, we should not spend 50% of our practice time on bunting because it is simply not THAT important.

If you spend all your time practising bunting, there is no time left to practise hitting, fielding, and pitching which matter far, far more in the game of baseball.

Suppose that we are writing a final examination called Obesity 101.  95% of the exam will be based on the “Diet” portion and 5% of the exam will be the “Exercise” portion.  Yet we spend 50%, 60%, 70% of our time and energy studying the “Exercise” portion.  Isn’t that crazy stupid?

It is no wonder that we are failing this final exam.  We think that we can study even more, put more resources into studying and we will be OK.  But it turns out we have been studying the wrong section called “Exercise”.

We have failed to understand the most basic part of obesity – What CAUSES obesity (the aetiology).  We need to understand The Aetiology of Obesity before we can expect to cure it.  We will leave the topic of exercise and now focus again on the causes of obesity.

Continue here for Hormonal Obesity VI

Begin here for Calories I

See the entire lecture – The Aetiology of Obesity 1/6 – A New Hope

2018-11-16T16:06:54-04:0014 Comments

About the Author:

Dr. Fung is a Toronto based kidney specialist, having graduated from the University of Toronto and finishing his medical specialty at the University of California, Los Angeles in 2001. He is the author of the bestsellers ‘The Obesity Code’ and ‘The Complete Guide to Fasting’. He has pioneered the use of therapeutic fasting for weight loss and type 2 diabetes reversal in his IDM clinic.

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Dan
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Dan

This is really a simple matter. Exercise does in fact help weight loss. This isn’t a huge mystery. Weight is caused by excess calories. If you eat more calories than you burn you gain weight. If you exercise but still eat 4000 calories a day you are going to gain weight. If you exercise and limit your caloric intake then you will lose weight. Saying that exercise doesn’t affect weight loss is a poor assumption. In order to determine this you would need to %100 control a persons food intake. You would need to limit the number of calories they… Read more »

Leah
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Leah

Dan, have you read the articles PREVIOUS to this one? This is one in a long line of articles. Just reading this ONE will make you think this is crazy.

cat
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cat

and yet, you are 1. not a medical professional & 2. provide no references to support your baseless opinion

Marty
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Marty

I was recently diagnosed with your two diabetes my sugars were over 600. My doctor of course is prescribing insulin,I truly don’t want to do that as I understand it isn’t the real problem, is there anyone in Eastern Tennessee that works with reversal and diet and not just insulin?

Archie L. Tucker
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You don’t need a doctor. Just stop eating. Limit your meals to 1 per day. At that meal, make sure you eat a lot of green leafy veggies, like a good salad with a lot of olive oil and vinegar, avocados, walnuts, almonds. Then you can eat anything else as long as you do not eat any processed carbohydrates. Your blood sugar will go down very rapidly. I coached my brother in this for one week. He was on metformin. I warned him he would have a sugar drop and need to see his doc within three weeks. Within one… Read more »

Pablo
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Pablo

Freaking awesome series about “Batman” and “Robin” XD

If after this explanation there is people that still doesn’t get it, I am going to start questioning the “sapiens” part of some “homo” beings.

sharal
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sharal

Exercise may not be as important for weight loss as the diet itself. And exercising alone wont make you lean if your diet is bad. That is very true. However, it is stupid to say that exercise has no meaning in weight loss program. Especially saying that studies has proven that people in USA exercise the most, yet they remain the most obese, is plain stupid. Imagine that, for example, 30% of population exercise in moderation and 10% exercise really a lot. The rest are tipical couch potatoes. Numbers would tell you that, in average, people exercise a lot yet… Read more »

Archie L. Tucker
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I have personally experienced that intensive exercise can and will result in dramatic weight loss. Refer to my earlier post.
lloyd

JR62
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JR62

WHI was not poorly made. It’s funny how there is so many people that doesn’t belive that excercise does not help weight loss even when all studies have failed to proove the hypothesis. Please do not begin any more hunred million dollar studies. It won’t change anything and won’t change nonbelivers mind.

Deb Griffith
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Deb Griffith

I used to work out, at the YMCA, 4 classes a week, godawful butt kicking aerobics (zumba and step aerobics), and couldn’t budge the weight. I started Intermittent fasting 7 weeks ago, dropped carbs, and am down 16 lbs.

If exercise means so much, explain that! “You can’t outrun a bad diet.” Truer words were never spoken!

Frans
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Frans

Hi Dr Fung
I see that you say exercise increases insulin sensitivity. Doesn’t that mean that it works under condition that we either do LCHF and Fasting First?
If so, what is the effect of exercise both of LCHF and fasting insulin levels? If there is such, could there be a conditional link to exercise and weight loss, and how much does it effect weight IN ADDITION to LCHF and / or Fasting?

TJ
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TJ

If exercise helps you become more insulin sensitive then wont this help you lose weight?

Amy
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Amy

Please don’t paint spending tax money on playgrounds and other exercise initiatives as entirely an effort to fight obesity. Do you have children? Play is how children learn. We aren’t spending money on these things just so they won’t be fat. We spend it so they can interact with other children, learn the laws of physics by testing them in real life, figure out how their bodies work, see what they are capable of and grow their self confidence in doing so. I live in a place where it’s a good 15 min walk to the closest grassy area my… Read more »

Anjali
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Thanks for sharing these article. I got nice information from this blog and you have put a fresh spin on this topic and health is something everyone serious now.