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Gaining weight? It might be your job that’s the problem
US researchers report in a study published online that the US obesity epidemic has been largely caused by a decline in jobs requiring people to be active. They delved into statistics and studies about the calories Americans consume and how much they exercise outside of work and found that neither has changed very much over the past 50 years. What has changed is how active Americans are at work. ‘In the early 1960s almost half the jobs in private industry in the US required at least moderate intensity physical activity whereas now less than 20% demand this level of energy expenditure. Since 1960 the estimated mean daily energy expenditure due to work related physical activity has dropped by more than 100 calories in both women and men’ says Prof Steven Blair commenting on the study. You can read the whole study online (free) HERE.

Better HbA1c with structured exercise
Physical activity is one of the cornerstones of managing diabetes and pre-diabetes. Why? Well exercising muscles need fuel and the fuel they need most is glucose. So as soon as you start moving your muscles, they start burning up glucose. First they use their own stores of glucose (that’s glycogen); then they’ll call on the liver for some its stores, all the time drawing glucose out of the blood and lowering your blood glucose levels. There are only two requirements when it comes to exercise says GI News’ Dr Alan Barclay: ‘One is that you do it. The other is that you continue to do it.’

Fat but fit

Daniel Umpierre and colleagues recent systematic review and meta-analysis published in JAMA report that ‘aerobic, resistance, and combined training are each associated with HbA1c decreases, and the magnitude of this reduction is similar across the three exercise modalities … Second, our findings demonstrate that structured exercise of more than 150 minutes per week is associated with greater declines in HbA1c (0.89%) than structured exercise of 150 minutes or less per week (0.36%) in people with type 2 diabetes … Although high-intensity exercise has been previously shown to have an association with HbA1c reduction, our findings did not demonstrate that more intensive exercise was associated with greater declines in HbA1c.’

The researchers add that the finding that physical activity advice is only associated with HbA1c reduction when accompanied by a dietary co-intervention highlights the need for a combined recommendation of these lifestyle interventions.

Health at every size

Prof. Linda Bacon
Prof. Linda Bacon

Advising obese and overweight patients to lose weight can do more harm than good, according to researchers Prof Linda Bacon PhD (author of Health At Every Size) and specialist dietitian Lucy Aphramor. In this open access article in Nutrition Journal the authors review the evidence to justify shifting the health care paradigm from a conventional weight focus to Health At Every Size (HAES).

In their introduction they write: ‘Despite attention from the public health establishment, a private weight loss industry estimated at $58.6 billion annually in the US, unprecedented levels of body dissatisfaction and repeated attempts to lose weight, the majority of individuals are unable to maintain weight loss over the long term and do not achieve the putative benefits of improved morbidity and mortality. Concern has arisen that this weight focused paradigm is not only ineffective at producing thinner, healthier bodies, but also damaging, contributing to food and body preoccupation, repeated cycles of weight loss and regain, distraction from other personal health goals and wider health determinants, reduced self-esteem, eating disorders, other health decrement, and weight stigmatization and discrimination.’

The paper reviews a number of assumptions underlying the conventional weight focus including ‘adiposity poses significant mortality risk’, ‘anyone who is determined can lose weight and keep it off through appropriate diet and exercise’, the pursuit of weight loss is a practical and positive goal’, and ‘the only way for overweight and obese people to improve health is to lose weight’. In shifting the paradigm from weight to health the authors explain how HAES encourages body acceptance, supports intuitive eating and building activity into daily routines.

Bacon and Aphramor urge the health care community to adopt ‘a more ethical, evidence-based approach toward public health nutrition’ – one that encourages individuals to concentrate on developing healthy habits rather than weight management.

You can read more about Linda Bacon and the HAES movement HERE.

#1 If Not Dieting, Then What? Dr Rick Kausman is widely recognized as the Australian pioneer of the non-dieting approach to healthy weight management. This book was winner for Best Nutrition Writing at the Australian Food Writers Awards in 1999. ‘It’s all about our attitude and a lot about our relationship with food,’ says Kausman.

Dr Rick Kausman
Dr Rick Kausman

In his book, he shows readers how to look at food in a more positive way and move away from the ‘no pain no gain’ approach. One chapter simply looks at what is ‘normal’ or ‘natural’ when it comes to eating patterns and Kausman reminds us ‘normal’ or ‘natural’ eating is different for different people, but also differs at different times for the same person and he goes on to list some of ways in which it is ‘normal’ or ‘natural’ to eat.

  • A ‘normal’ or ‘natural’ way of eating is not to weigh food or count calories.
  • It is ‘normal’ or ‘natural’ to eat enough food and not be rigid in our food choices.
  • It is ‘normal’ or ‘natural’ to eat something at least three times a day.
  • It is ‘normal’ or ‘natural’ to eat more on some days and less on others.
  • It is ‘normal’ or ‘natural’ to overeat occasionally.
  • It is ‘normal’ or ‘natural’ to undereat occasionally.
  • It is ‘normal’ or ‘natural’ to eat certain types of foods some of the time, just for the taste of it.
  • It is ‘normal’ or ‘natural’ for women to have fluctuations in appetite and cravings for certain types of foods as hormone levels vary during the course of the menstrual cycle.

Interested in finding out more on how to achieve and maintain a healthy, comfortable weight without being deprived of food or losing quality of life and how to enjoy food without feeling guilty? Check out Dr Kausman’s website (or order the book) HERE.

#2 Get out of your chair and start moving for at least 150 minutes a week … Lucy Knight’s Walking for Weightloss (Kyle Cathie) is a practical guide to help you tot up those 150 minutes a week that Prof Steve Blair recommends for being fit (walking is all you need to do). Forget about the ‘weightloss’ in the title – that’s a word publishers think they must put on covers to sell books. It’s basically a handy guide to walking your way to fitness (or getting into shape). Chapters cover the benefits of walking (bone and joint health, zest for life and more), checking your posture, perfecting your walking technique, the importance of warming up and cooling down, setting goals and kitting yourself out. Don’t think it’s all about power walking – Nordic walking, mall walking, hill walking, rambling around the countryside, walking holidays, charity walks and even treadmills get a mention.