Busting obesity myths

With increased awareness among the general public regarding obesity, many people are looking to adopt healthier lifestyles. But, despite our best intentions, it’s all too easy to set about this in the wrong way. Initiatives like JanUary, the annual campaign by the National Obesity Forum, help to ensure our self-improvement drive doesn’t go to waste, bringing much-needed attention to reassessing our eating and exercising habits. First off, people should learn what works and what doesn’t.

  1. Myth: In order to lose weight, I simply need to increase the amount of exercise that I do. Exercise on its own is unlikely to have a significant impact on weight loss. The most successful regime for losing weight should combine exercise and dieting. Dieting alone is the next best approach, followed by a focus on exercise to sustain weight loss.
  1. Myth: Carbohydrates are bad and, in order to become healthier, I need to cut them out of my diet completely. Taken as part of a healthy diet, carbohydrates are not at all bad. In fact, many of the healthiest foods, such as fruits and vegetables, are rich in carbs. It is the processed and added sugars in some types of carbs – white bread, for example – that are most damaging and should be avoided.
  1. Myth: Low-fat foods are my best option for a healthy diet. This often isn’t the case because many processed low fat foods, such as yoghurt, are actually high in sugar to ensure they are palatable. If people opt for low fat foods, they should ensure they come without additives.
  1. Myth: My child may be overweight now, but this is likely to be puppy fat and I am sure he or she will lose this extra weight in later life. Being overweight as a child is closely associated with obesity in later life. Parents should monitor their children’s weight, and ensure they have the right diet and exercise routine to prevent them from becoming obese.
  1. Myth: The only way I can truly lose weight and avoid obesity is to invest in a gym membership and make sure I work out twice a week. There are alternative, potentially more effective ways to do this, such as ‘exercise snacking’. This involves multiple bouts of exercise for short periods during the day, such as 10 minutes after breakfast, lunch and dinner – a method that has be shown to control blood sugar better than a single, continuous workout.

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