It's eating too much, and it's not moving too little, that has a long-term impact on weight gain, a process that can begin in childhood. It flies in the face of current thinking that urges young people in particular to move more and lead less sedentary lives.
The emphasis should instead be on diet, say researchers from Baylor University after studying the lives of children in the Amazon rainforest, who are, on average, 25 percent more physically active than children in industrialized countries.
The body seems to have the capability to adapt to less exercise but can't adjust for a poor diet or eating too much. In other words, the idea that we can burn calories is simplistic; instead, the body doesn't keep burning calories endlessly but will stop after a short time and will store them for other metabolic functions.
The researchers studied 44 Shuar children, aged between five and 12, living in Ecuador and who depend on foraging and horticulture for their food. They also hunt and fish and although they are far more active than their counterparts in the West, their total daily calorie burn is almost identical.
Exercise is important, the researchers emphasise, especially for maintaining muscle mass and heart function—but it doesn't, on its own, have much impact on our weight.
The Get Well Show
If you are keen to learn more on some of the conditions mentioned in this topic, the Get Well Show is your chance to hear from some of the leading minds in alternative medicine.
Katrina Mather will be promoting simple ways to nourish the body, reduce stress and ultimately help ourselves to thrive on Friday, February 21st.