The truth about diet and exercise
There have been a million articles about this. Maybe a billion. And today added a lot more to that number thanks to an editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
Now I've got no experience in medicine or science and I don't want to start trying to claim to. However, what I do know about is media and messaging. My career has been built in marketing, branding and PR. And the headlines I saw today made me cringe. They are, as almost always the case when the media covers health, only half the story at best.
From the BBC (Exercise 'Not Key to Obesity Fight') to Mashable (You Can't Outrun Obesity--okay actually I'll give them a little credit on that one) to the Independent (You don't need to do 'one iota' of exercise to lose weight) today's news was all about the fact that it's your diet that's making you fat.
They're not wrong--or at least that's what I'm lead to believe by the quotes and studies and information presented by credible scientists.
But they're missing the point about overall health and also how the average person consumes media. Sure, being at your ideal weight reduces all sorts of risks and associated health issues but you won't be healthy just because you're thin. Just look at your average neighbourhood runway model if you need an example of that. But will most people read past the headline to the great quotes like the one from Prof Mark Baker, of the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence, which says 'it would be "idiotic" to rule out the importance of physical activity'? Probably not. They'll most likely read just the headline and, at best the first paragraph and take away the message that exercise is not important. And that's the issue.
Are the junk food companies misleading people into thinking they can drink all the sugary drinks and eat all the crisps they want as long as they run for hours a day? Hell yes.
Is diet the single major factor affecting weight and health issues, even more than physical exercise habits? So the experts tell me.
But the media haven't ever been great at getting those balance of messages across, or hey, even fact checking health claims like in this recent case in Australia, and they need to answer for their coverage of all of it.
The truth about diet and exercise is that they go hand in hand if you want to achieve optimum, all-around health. There's no quick fix and there are no shortcuts. And I wish that the media would stop pretending and speaking to people like there was. Because the sooner that people realise there's no little magic pill or that it's not just one thing but a host of things that we do every day that affect our health, things are not going to improve much.
Find healthy foods you like eating and eat them (in the right quantities). Find activities you have fun doing that get your heart rate up and make your muscles work. And learn to read critically about health and wellbeing because at the end of the day, the media doesn't actually have your health and wellbeing in mind.