Myth busting obesity

Seven prevalent obesity myths are put under scrutiny, with some results belying conventional wisdom.

The realm of weight loss is one where beliefs and myths abound. It seems everyone, from the public to expert dietitians, has views and beliefs around the causes of obesity, with these not always being supported by good science.

Coming from a firm scientific evidence footing, twenty respected obesity researchers scoured the Internet, popular media, and scientific literature to identify prevalent obesity myths as well as facts that are well supported by evidence. Their findings were published in the high impact ‘New England Journal of Medicine’ in January this year. These myths provide sound advice for anyone determined to have long-term weight loss success.

The research team arrived at a core group of ‘Seven myths about obesity’, with some of them certainly going against conventional wisdom.

Myth: Small sustained changes in energy intake or physical activity will give long-term weight changes.

Fact: A small change in weight is quickly overtaken by lower energy needs as a person loses weight, meaning further lifestyle changes are always needed. Eating healthy is a life-long commitment, not just a diet fad.

Myth: Setting realistic goals for weight loss is important otherwise people will become frustrated and lose less weight.

Fact: The truth is that even ambitious goals for weight loss have been shown to be just as effective. Don’t be afraid to aim high.

Myth: Large, rapid weight loss is associated with worse long-term weight outcomes compared to slow gradual weight loss.

Fact: In clinical trials, people who lose weight rapidly (done in a sensible way) do just as well, and sometimes better, than people who adopt a ‘slow and steady’ approach. There are merits to a ‘kick start’ approach to weight loss.

Myth: Assessing the stage of change for readiness to lose weight is important in helping people who seek weight loss treatment.

Fact: How ‘ready’ someone is to lose weight, does not predict how well they will do.

Myth: Physical education classes in their current form play an important role in preventing or reducing childhood obesity.

Fact: Physical activity is an important health-promoting activity, but the current levels used in many programs are just not enough to make a significant impact on body weight.

Myth: Breastfeeding is protective against obesity.

Fact: Breastfeeding has lots of positive health benefits for the mother and infant, but protecting against later-life obesity is not one of them.

Myth: A bout of sexual activity burns 420 to 1260 kJ (100 to 300 Calories) for each person involved.

Fact: While a person’s mileage may vary, the average amount of energy used during sex is just 88 kJ (21 Calories). Hardly worth getting out of bed for.

The obesity experts also listed what they considered undisputable facts about obesity:

  • Genetics plays a large role in obesity, but genes do not mean an unalterable destiny for a person
  • Diets are very effective for weight loss, but do not work long term
  • Regardless of body weight, being more physically active will improve health
  • Physical activity at a sufficient ‘dose’ (more than 60 minutes a day) aids long-term weight maintenance
  • Maintaining the factors that helped with weight loss will help with weight maintenance
  • Involving parents and the home environment leads to greater weight loss in overweight children
  • Meal replacement products and pre-prepared meals promote greater weight loss
  • Some drugs as well as surgery help with weight loss

What this means for you

There are many false and unsupported beliefs about obesity and weight loss. Sticking to the facts and discarding some long-standing myths will help tip the scales in a positive way in your effort to lose weight.

 

Recommended reading - Kids’ nutrition

Community

Cooking with kids

Children's cookbook author Emily Rose Brott talks getting kids involved in making healthy food.

Read more
Recipes

Crumbed chicken and salsa in pita recipe

Emily Rose Brott shares a great chicken recipe for kids.

Read more
Recipes

Warm Middle Eastern herb salad recipe

The perfect beach or BBQ salad with flavours that get better over time.

Read more
Lifestyle

Cooking games for kids

Bored kids? Get them in the kitchen! These cooking activities will keep them occupied for hours.

Read more
Lifestyle

Healthy school lunchbox ideas

Healthy kids are happy kids with this innovative school lunch ideas.

Read more
Recipes

Minestrone soup recipe

This minestrone by Dani of Fitness, Food and Style is packed full of antioxidants.

Read more
Recipes

Goji and coconut bliss balls recipe

Bliss out on the super-goodness of these delectable treats

Read more
Recipes

Creamy orange C smoothie recipe

Recharge with this powerful, citrusy smoothie, alive with antioxidant goodness

Read more
Recipes

Mexican baked eggy tortilla cups recipe

For a Mexican recipe that's a little different, try baked eggy tortilla cups

Read more
Recipes

Lentil soup recipe

Lentil-based dishes like this red lentil soup are not only delicious but are packed with goodness.

Read more
Recipes

Roasted apricot yellow couscous with grilled fish recipe

Bill Granger believes in a relaxed approach to good food. Here, he shares a family favourite.

Read more
Recipes

Avocado smash recipe

Avocados are an Australian breakfast staple. Try an Italian twist on your avocado smash.

Read more
Recipes

Asparagus, leek and pea tart recipe

Asparagus, Leek and Pea Tart is a delicious and easy dish for lunch or dinner.

Read more
Recipes

Sticky date pancake recipe

Wind up your weekend workouts and treat yourself with these delicious sticky date pancakes.

Read more
Recipes

Pettole (Italian fruit donuts) recipe

A delicious treat by Junior Masterchef stars Sofia and Isabella Bliss

Read more
Recipes

Simple berry bircher recipe

A bircher muesli that takes 2 minutes to prepare - leave overnight and enjoy for breakfast.

Read more
Recipes

Duck tacos with cherry salsa recipe

Add a fresh, fruity twist to this Mexican favourite - delicioso!

Read more
Recipes

Chewy persimmon and ginger cookies recipe

Poh shares a delicious treat, blending the unique flavours of persimmons, pecans and mixed spices

Read more
Recipes

Cherry smoothie recipe

Cool down this summer with a low-fat smoothie packed full of cherry superpowers.

Read more
Recipes

Banana and apple bread recipe

The Bourke Street Bakery shares a winning recipe for a soft, sweet loaf of bread.

Read more
Recipes

Nectarine honeycomb ice-cream recipe

Model Rachael Finch shares an easy, delicious ice cream dessert recipe.

Read more
Recipes

Nectarine waffles recipe

Rachael Finch shares a delicious recipe to bid nectarines a sweet goodbye.

Read more
Recipes

Banana buckwheat pancake recipe

There's nothing quite like pancakes for breakfast. Enjoy this wholesome recipe from Lesh Karan.

Read more
Recipes

Whole wheat banana honey macadamia muffins recipe

Soft, sweet and wholesome, these muffins are a bananalicious treat.

Read more
Recipes

Macadamia Mediterranean muffin recipe

The delectable flavour of roasted macadamias take these savoury muffins to a new level of yum.

Read more
In Brief

Why Australian kids need to learn more about food

Concerned about your children's food choices? A survey suggests more food education is needed

Read more
Lifestyle

Food for active kids

Young, active bodies need the right nutrients to stay vibrant and strong. Here's a guide.

Read more

For full functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are instructions on how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.