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Energy Balance to Fight Obesity

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Energy Balance to Fight Obesity

Researchers suggest that balancing energy mechanisms in our bodies is the key to regulating body weight.

Researchers at the University of Colorado school of Medicine suggest using energy balance strategies to confront “the growing epidemic of obesity among children and adults.”

The most common strategies in fighting obesity rely on reducing food consumption, but what’s more important is to consider the balance of energy within our bodies. Researchers say that by themselves, strategies that focus on either food intake or physical activity don’t work. The key is to give attention to both, finding a better relationship between energy intake and expenditure.

The researchers attribute the rise in obesity to the fact that, compared to previous generations, much less physical activity is required in our daily lives. Therefore, the best way to counter weight gain is to reintroduce physical activity into our daily lives.

Finding energy balance

Energy balance strategies aim to control biological mechanisms that regulate body weight. These mechanisms include food intake, energy expended through physical activity, and energy (fat) storage. Increasing the levels of energy expenditure in comparison to the amount of foods and beverages consumed can help overcome the body’s natural defenses in preserving its existing body weight.

According to the researchers’ report, a large body of research shows that higher levels of physical activity are associated with low weight gain, and low levels of activity are linked to high weight gain over time.

It’s not just about food

Reducing caloric intake alone is not effective in treating obesity because the body’s natural defense is to slow its metabolic rate in order to preserve existing energy reserves.

Also, constant food restrictions are difficult to maintain in the long term. When food and beverage intake eventually returns to its normal level, this results in a positive energy balance, which means the number of calories consumed exceeds the amount burned. This excess manifests itself as increased body mass, of which 60 to 80 percent will be in the form of fat.

As Dr. James O. Hill, lead author of the paper, explains, “What we are really talking about is changing the message from ‘Eat Less, Move More’ to ‘Move More, Eat Smarter.’”

Physical activity in Canada

Active Healthy Kids Canada recently assigned a failing grade to Canadian youths on their physical activity. Only seven percent of children and youth are meeting Canada’s guidelines for a minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity per day.

Adults aren’t fairing much better. Only 15 percent of Canadian adults meet the minimum requirement of 150 minutes of physical activity per week, which is proving costly to Canadians.

More on obesity and physical activity

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