by Ali Hale
A small study by the Loyola University Health System has suggested that exercise may not be such a strong factor in preventing obesity as previously thought.
The study, published in the October 2008 issue of the journal Obesity, included 149 women from rural Nigeria and 172 African-American women from metropolitan Chicago. The press release about the study's findings was published on January 5th 2008.
The researchers, led by Dr Amy Luke, knew that the Chicago women weighed an average of 184 pounds, and the Nigerian women averaged 127 pounds. They were surprised to find that there was no significant difference between the two groups in levels of physical activity:
Adjusted for body size, the Chicago women burned an average of 760 calories per day in physical activity, while the Nigerian women burned 800 calories. This difference was not statistically significant.
This appears to contradict the common assumption that obesity is fueled by declining physical activity. The researchers believe that diet plays a much greater role:
[Dr Luke] noted the Nigerian diet is high in fiber and carbohydrates and low in fat and animal protein. By contrast, the Chicago diet is 40 percent to 45 percent fat and high in processed foods.
Although this is a small study, the results suggest that physical activity alone is unlikely to cause weight loss. If you're overweight, becoming more active is important (try meeting the recommended guidelines for a good starting target). But making healthy dietary changes is key to successful, long-term weight loss.
article source, Dietblog