As everyone knows by now people living in the Western world, and Americans in particular, have become incredibly unhealthy over the past 40 years. No matter what we do, it seems like our waistbands continue to expand relentlessly. Year after year, fad diets come and go, and despite a few exceptions, nothing seems to help.
The reasons for our unhealthy demise are numerous. We’ve poisoned our bodies with a plethora of drugs, both pharmaceutical and over the counter (think tobacco, alcohol), and we’ve let ourselves slip into a sedentary lifestyle. To top it all off, we’re slowly destroying our health with an endless parade sweetened, processed garbage.
Yes, one would correctly surmise that our poor health has been caused by a combination of factors. However, as surprising as it may sound, one of those factors stands out from rest for causing the most chronic disease, possibly even dwarfing popular whipping posts such as smoking.
Sugar and carbohydrates are the real culprits in the obesity epidemic – and the public has been falsely told that couch potato lifestyles are to blame, a new report has claimed.
Writing in the British Journal Of Sports Medicine, they said poor diet now generates more disease than physical inactivity, alcohol and smoking combined.
The editorial, by a group of cardiologists and sports experts, says that while obesity has rocketed in the past 30 years there has been little change in physical activity levels.
“This places the blame for our expanding waistlines directly on the type and amount of calories consumed,” they write.
The authors, who include Dr Aseem Malhotra, a cardiologist and adviser to the campaign group Action on Sugar, said the public had been sold a “false perception” that exercise was more important than eating healthily, when the opposite was true.
It’s simple really. Obesity causes numerous diseases, and now more people are obese than ever before. But just how damaging would you guess our diets are, compared to other vices? This image just about sums it up.
It’s astonishing that this hasn’t come out sooner, though I suppose it makes sense. Poor diet and lack of exercise have always been paired together despite being at opposite ends of the disease causing spectrum, and nobody questioned it. But once you see it, it can’t be unseen.
How many people do you know tried to lose weight by exercising more, while making few significant changes to their diet? Or maybe they started out with a good diet for a while, but fell off the wagon at some point. I’m sure their exercise routine was the next to go, after failing to secure any encouraging results. Or perhaps they lost some weight that was quickly regained after a few years. Either way, whenever someone places a priority on exercise while only making a half hearted attempt to change their diet, they usually fail to lose weight.
In fact, the researchers found that people might actually be exercising slightly more now than in previous decades, which is probably due to how conscious we’ve become of our health problems. And yet, no matter how much we work out, the pounds just keep on packing.
Now, I still believe that exercise can make a big difference, but I can see how a poor diet could negate any of the benefits. Think about it. If you’re a hundred pounds overweight, it doesn’t matter how many times you go for a run on the same track or up the same hill. If the weight can’t be lost, you’ll probably only realize a marginal increase in physical fitness. You’ll rapidly run into the law of diminishing returns.
Your body can only improve so much if it’s still carrying around the same weight. If someone reaches their peak under those conditions, and they still haven’t lost a significant amount of weight, it’s very discouraging. They’ll probably give up on their exercise routine altogether, and regain whatever weight they managed to lose.
So if you’re struggling with your weight, focus on cutting back on added sugars and carbs, and then move on to a hefty exercise routine. In any case, most exercises can be pretty hard on your joints when you’re overweight, so pair your new diet with some low impact exercises first. But if you tackle this problem with an emphasis on working out without addressing your diet, you’ve got one hell of a sisyphean task ahead of you.