Sugar and Sweat: The Challenge for Adults (Not Kids)

Sandra Adamson Fryhofer, MD


June 05, 2013

In This Article

Our Ongoing Obesity Challenge

Two thirds of adults are overweight or obese. Not enough sweat expended, and too much sugar and too many calories consumed, explain why.

A recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine dispelled some obesity myths.[5] Weight-loss goals need not be sensible and reasonable. Sometimes bigger goals can mean better results. In fact, people who set more ambitious expectations often lose the most weight, even if they don't reach their goal. The study also undermined the presumptions that snacking leads to weight gain and that eating breakfast protects against obesity. (However, as a devoted breakfast eater and believer, I disagree.)

The expert panel in the article did come up with their own list of obesity truths. Genetic factors play a role, but they are not the whole story. Environmental changes can make a difference.[5] Regardless of your weight, exercise. It's a winning strategy to help you lose weight and gain health, and not enough of us are doing it. Structured meal plans and meal replacements can be helpful. They also acknowledged that medications and weight-loss surgery are necessary for some.

The latest bit of advice for finding caloric balance: Eat a healthy snack before you shop. Don't go grocery shopping when you're hungry. Hungry shoppers are more likely to buy high-calorie foods. We "knew" that, but this new JAMA Internal Medicine study "proves" it.[6]

Combating obesity takes constant attention. I recently downloaded a few free weight-loss mobile apps (eg, Lose It and My Fitness Pal), which help me stay in balance. At the end of the day, you're left with the difference between calories in and calories burned (but with many complex variables).


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