Food and Behaviour Research

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13 February 2015 - MNT - Healthy diet, exercise 'not enough to treat obesity,' say experts

Honor Whiteman

Pople who are obese are often told to eat healthier and exercise more in order to lose weight. But in an article recently published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, obesity experts claim the condition is a chronic disease that can be caused by biological factors, meaning many cases may not be cured with a healthy diet and physical activity alone.

In their article, the experts state that while a healthy diet and exercise may help obese individuals lose weight in the short term, around 80-95% eventually gain back that weight.

They explain that this is partly because a reduced intake of calories can activate a type of biological "fat-loss defense" that encourages the body to stay at a higher weight.

According to the authors, this defense mechanism once protected humans when food was scarce. In these modern times, however, humans tend to have higher body weights for longer periods. As such, the defense mechanism drives calorie consumption and fat storage so a higher body weight can be maintained.

Most obese people 'unable to override fat-loss defense' with diet and exercise

The authors say that in a 21st century environment where high-calorie, high-fat foods are the norm, alongside low levels of physical activity, the majority of people who are obese are unable to override the defense mechanism simply through lifestyle changes.