Authors of an article in the NEJM (summarized here) looked at some of the fallacies and dogmas behind the obesity challenge. Here are some of the things they exposed:
- Small changes in diet or exercise lead to large, long-term weight changes. Fact: The body adapts to changes, so small steps to cut calories don’t have the same effect over time, studies suggest. At least one outside expert agrees with the authors that the “small changes” concept is based on an “oversimplified” 3,500-calorie rule, that adding or cutting that many calories alters weight by one pound.
- School gym classes have a big impact on kids’ weight. Fact: Classes typically are not long, often or intense enough to make much difference.
- Losing a lot of weight quickly is worse than losing a little slowly over the long term. Fact: Although many dieters regain weight, those who lose a lot to start with often end up at a lower weight than people who drop more modest amounts.
- Snacking leads to weight gain. Fact: No high quality studies support that, the authors say.
- Regularly eating breakfast helps prevent obesity. Fact: Two studies found no effect on weight and one suggested that the effect depended on whether people were used to skipping breakfast or not.
- Setting overly ambitious goals leads to frustration and less weight loss. Fact: Some studies suggest people do better with high goals.
- Claims that sex burns 100 to 300 calories are bogus since the only study that scientifically measured the energy output (on a man) found that sex lasted six minutes on average and burned a mere 21 calories, about as much as walking.
Ouch. Now that can’t be right, can it? What about if you are alone? I know that I can be very vigorous…er…I mean I heard that some people….forget it. I’ve said too much.