New study: Obesity is Not Caused by Lack of Exercise

Relaxing hunter gatherer

Is the obesity epidemic caused by too much bad food, or is it simply because of lack of exercise? A new study deals a blow to the “Coca Cola spokesperson” argument that obese soda-drinking kids just need to spend more time on their treadmills.

It seems like our slim ancestors perhaps didn’t burn more calories than we do today. So the cause of our obesity epidemic is hardly a sudden epidemic of laziness. Probably it’s got a lot more to do with junk food:

BBC: Hunter gatherer clue to obesity

Here’s the study:

PLoS ONE: Hunter-Gatherer Energetics and Human Obesity

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17 Comments

  1. Bearhands
    In my personal case, I know this to be absolutely true as I am extremely sedentary by nature and very slim! I have always had a very healthy appitite and the only time I gained a noticable amount of weight was when I was living on cheap carbs whilst I was a student. When I lived at home and my Mum was cooking lots of proper food, I would regularly eat 3 helpings (which I know is very unhealthy in itself!) but I still remained super slilm. I am not advocating not doing any exercise, it is important and something I personally need to work on... but just suggesting people just need to move more to combat obesity is pointless. Unless peopel change the way they feed themselves no amount of time on a treadmill is going to improve overall health & reduce chronic disease in carb & sugar obsessed western societies.
  2. Doodle
    I know that this is true due to personal experience. I am a mum to two small children and constantly running around after them, I run my own business from home and we bushwalk for hours at the weekends, and yet I am still overweight. I was running on my treadmill for 45 minutes per day, and watching my diet, eating the things that are supposed to be healthy such as whole-grains and plenty of fruit, and all I was doing was running myself in to exhaustion, with no weight loss to show for the hard work. I recently had to stop exercising because I fractured some bones in my back, and at the same time switched to an LCHF diet, and have seen more progress with my weight loss than ever before. At the same time, I feel better than I have for many years, my acne has cleared up (I am 37), my hair has stopped falling out, my back doesn't ache anymore and I feel fitter and stronger than ever before even though I am eating more and exercising less. We still bushwalk regularly because it is something that we enjoy, but the treadmill exercise has stopped.
  3. tooticky
    I could have written what Bearhands wrote. I'm super slim (BMI 19 - if that is reliable measurement of anything....) and always eaten more than people twice my size. For the last two years i've eaten an average 30 carbs/day or less and have gained more muscle which I'm really happy about. Before my LCHF I was more like "skinny-ill" whereas now I consider myself "skinny-healthy". However, I do accumulate fat on my belly area and find it impossible to shift.

    I'm concerned losing any weight as I don't want to be any skinnier. On the contrary, I'd like to have more mass on my legs and upper body. Alas, everything seem to accumulate in the middle. I'm approaching 40 in couple of years, and have had one c-section done to me. I'd really like to know the secret of getting rid of fat surrounding my belly button. Is this where the exercise would help? Or is the fat in the middle just part of my genetic makeup which I just have to accept? Any ideas you clever people out there in the LCHF community?

  4. I lost 50 pounds on a low carb diet and while dieting decided to avoid exercising. I was aware that exercising more caused my hunger to increase, plus I felt more justified in eating higher carb foods. Now I walk daily and do one aerobics class each week (just for fun) and I am a normal weight, maintain easily and feel super healthy. I put it down to my diet - not the exercise. Even marathon runners can be overweight and many put on weight while they train.
  5. Troy Wynn
    Article did not address kinds of foods consumed. That is the real nugget. Instead, they suggest fewer calories. whoopee! I found the article and study to be worthless. Why not delve into the diet of these HG people? High Carb calorie restriction is what the reader will take away from this article instead of exploring a more ancestral diet. Or... did I miss something?
  6. Mindy
    Did they really need a study to prove that? Didn't they already prove that diet is 80% of what we look like? It is common sense that lack of exercise is not the cause of obesity.
  7. Troy Wynn
    I'd like to see a study that compares exact LCHF with the independent variable being the animal protein from commercial feed lots vs. range fed. Prove that range fed provides a benefit worth the cost from a health perspective, environmental issues not withstanding.
  8. Peggy Holloway
    Tooticky:
    I too had a C-section, and have carried most of my excess weight in a "belly pooch" just below the navel ever since. (I am older than you - 59) Despite being otherwise quite slim with no body fat anywhere else, that little pooch just won't go away. I have been low-carb for nearly 13 years, and have been tweaking my diet over time. This summer, I have tried to stay in ketosis, upping my fat intake. In addition, I have become an avid cyclist, biking over 2000 miles in the last three months and increasing speed and exertion weekly. I set a goal of finally getting rid of my tummy this summer and I have seen some improvement. I am still hopeful that by winter, if I stay in ketosis and keep cycling, that my "baby fat" will finally be gone!
  9. Noted is the article points to "overeating" being the culprit. Sounds like a really great scientific study...or not.
  10. Low Carb Convert,
    "Overeating" is also the culprit behind every case of constipation. They just eat more than they defecate. Stupid people.
  11. Margaretrc
    Troy Wynn, here is a great discussion of the differences between feedlot beef and grass fed: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/the-differences-between-grass-fed-beef... It's not a study, but you don't need a study. If you know the nutrient profile of each and how they differ and how they are the same, you can make a pretty good estimate of their respective effects on health and make an educated decision as to whether grass fed is worth the extra cost. I don't think the differences are in the protein as much as in the fatty acid profiles. I think the argument can be made that if one can't afford range fed, one is not going to suffer greatly health wise.
  12. Mike
    "This to me says that the big reason that Westerners are getting fat is because we eat too much - it's not because we exercise too little," said Dr Pontzer

    Wrong! It's what we eat,not how much.I can eat 3000 calories a day on 60-70% fat,and be lean.But, 2200 calories a day on 60% carbs,I blow up like a balloon.

  13. Zepp
    This studie, does only shows that hunter/gatherer have the same energy expenditure as ordinary citicens living in modern societys.

    So one can say that we are not lasy bums, its more about what we eat, and how it affect our bodys.

    I do have the same teory as the authors.. its about energy dens food without nutrishment.

  14. Troy Wynn
    Margaretrc:

    Thanks for the link. Pretty much as I thought.

  15. interesting... but exercise is super imortant anyway, it strenghtens your heart and muscles, tighten the buttocks and give u a nice figure.. low carb alone dont give you muscles and definition ;)

    i still think exercise is somewhat slimming - your body tolerates sugar better, blodsugars normalises and the body needs more energy.. thats why elite sportsmen can eat that much..,the more and harder you train the more u can eat - of low carb preferably.
    and tight muscles from working out "sucks" in your flesh! ;) espesially on the tummy...

  16. Troy Wynn
    Margareth:

    Physical fitness has tremendous benefits. Increase the ratio of muscle to body weight, achieving balance of cardio, muscle strength and muscle endurance through out you entire body, which will provide you many years of an active lifestyle, and perhaps you will be able to save your life, or somebody else. Can you climb over a wall, fence, or pull yourself up a tree to safety? can you run 250 yards and do something when you get there, like pull somebody out of harms way, maybe several people? There's no telling what will happen to us, day by day.

    We should, as human beings, be able to do the above. I can assure you, LCHF will accelerate the process with the right training program. I see it in my gym, and personally have experience the rapid fitness improvements after switch to a ketogenic diet..

  17. Zepp
    I rather say that unfitness have a lot of bad impact on our healt!

    On the other things I have the same opinition!

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