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It is time to bust the myth of physical inactivity and obesity: you cannot outrun a bad diet
  1. A Malhotra1,
  2. T Noakes2,
  3. S Phinney3
  1. 1 Department of Cardiology, Frimley Park Hospital and Consultant Clinical Associate to the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges
  2. 2 Department of Human Biology, University of Cape Town and Sports Science Institute of South Africa, Newlands, South Africa
  3. 3 School of Medicine (Emeritus), University of California Davis, Davis, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr A Malhotra, Department of Cardiology, Frimley Park Hospital and Consultant Clinical Associate to the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges; aseem_malhotra{at}hotmail.com

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A recent report from the UK's Academy of Medical Royal Colleges described ‘the miracle cure’ of performing 30 min of moderate exercise, five times a week, as more powerful than many drugs administered for chronic disease prevention and management.1 Regular physical activity reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia and some cancers by at least 30%. However, physical activity does not promote weight loss.

In the past 30 years, as obesity has rocketed, there has been little change in physical activity levels in the Western population.2 This places the blame for our expanding waist lines directly on the type and amount of calories consumed. However, the obesity epidemic represents only the tip of a much larger iceberg of the adverse health consequences of poor diet. According to The Lancet global burden of disease reports, poor diet now generates more disease than physical inactivity, alcohol and smoking combined. Up to 40% of those with a normal body mass index will harbour metabolic abnormalities typically associated with obesity, which include hypertension, dyslipidaemia, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and cardiovascular disease.3 However, this is little appreciated by scientists, doctors, media writers and policymakers, despite the extensive scientific literature on the vulnerability of all ages and all …

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Footnotes

  • Correction notice This article has been amended from the original published on 29th April 2015. The body of the text was slightly edited and a reference removed. Competing interests have been added.

  • Competing interests SP is a paid member of the Atkins Scientific Advisory Board and has authored books on low carb/high fat diets: New Atkins and You and The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living; TN is the author of the books Lore of Running and Waterlogged and co-author of The Real Meal Revolution and Challenging Beliefs. All royalties from the sale of Real Meal Revolution are donated to the The Noakes Foundation of which he is the Chairman and which funds research of insulin resistance, diabetes and nutrition as directed by its Board of Directors. Money from the sale of other books is donated to the Tim and Marilyn Noakes Sports Science Research Trust which funds the salary of a senior researcher at the University of Cape Town, South Africa (research focuses on the study of skeletal muscle in African mammals with some overlap to the study of type 2 diabetes in carnivorous mammals and of the effects of (scavenged) sugar consumption on free-living (wild) baboons).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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