Everybody “knows” that obesity is America’s number 1 killer even though they don’t actually know anyone who has died from being too fat, which is what “obese” means. You may know someone who has died from diabetes or heart disease or cancer, but not from obesity (with the possible exception of sleep apnea).
Obese people are more likely to get all those diseases, but calling obesity a killer confuses correlation with causation. Obesity and heart disease and diabetes and cancer are all dietary-related diseases. Most people who eat poorly will be at greater risk of all of these conditions, but are highly likely to become obese long before becoming sick. Obesity is the dead canary in the coal mine. You can know two things about obese people: they are SENSITIVE to a poor diet and they are EATING a poor diet.
Exercise reduces obesity. But it does not manufacture nutrients that are not present in the diet. Nor does it mitigate the need for those nutrients. Nor does it eliminate the toxins that come with packaged foods. BEING FIT WILL MAKE PEOPLE WHO EAT POORLY THINK THEY ARE HEALTHIER THAN THEY ACTUALLY ARE. Exercise definitely has some health benefits, but it does not eliminate the risk of dietary-related diseases other than obesity.
As far as lifestyle factors go, sitting too much has a greater influence than exercising too little. The teacher who never “exercises” but stands all day is likely to be healthier than the office worker who sits all day and exercises an hour every night.
Good food makes you healthy. Activity makes you fit. You cannot be completely healthy without both, but being fit does not make you healthy. For HEALTH purposes, walking 3 to 5 miles per day and avoiding sitting for long periods of time will give you AT LEAST as good returns as frequent, vigorous exercise.
Editor’s Note – Welcome Thomas Newberry, an old friend of mine from college who is now the business manager at Nutritional Health Center