Weight loss is not an overnight achievement but a journey we constantly strive towards. Let’s just agree -couldn’t we all do better by shedding a couple of those stubborn kilos? However, this is easier said than done. It takes a lot of dedication, patience, willpower and control to actually eat healthier and lose weight. Sometimes, we all wonder – is it possible to gorge on unhealthy food and burn it all off with rigorous exercise? A recent study by the University of Sydney found that this is not the case and weight loss is more than just creating a calorie deficit. A bad diet cannot be balanced out by copious amounts of exercise. The study suggests that high levels of physical activity do not counter the harmful effects of a poor diet, especially when it comes to mortality risk.
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The study was published in the ‘British Journal of Sports Medicine’. Academicians at the University of Sydney conducted the research on a population sample of approximately 3.6 lakh British adults using data provided by the UK Biobank. They carefully studied the effects of physical activity and a healthy ‘high-quality’ diet on factors such as cardiovascular health and cancer risk. For the purpose of the study, a high-quality diet was defined as that which contains five portions of fruits and vegetables every day, two portions of fish every week and less consumption of processed meat such as red meat.
The researchers found that participants who had a high-quality diet and high levels of exercise or physical activity had the lowest risk of death. Their mortality risk was reduced by 17 percent from all causes, 19 percent from cardiovascular disease and 27 percent from selected cancers, versus those with bad diets who did not exercise.
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Lead author Associate Professor Melody Ding from the Charles Perkins Centre and the Faculty of Medicine and Health at the University of Sydney said, “Both regular physical activity and a healthy diet play an important role in promoting health and longevity. Some people may think they could offset the impacts of a poor diet with high levels of exercise or offset the impacts of low physical activity with a high-quality diet, but the data shows that unfortunately, this is not the case.“
Thus, a healthy diet and sufficient physical activity are absolutely essential for reducing the risk of death. “Adhering to both a quality diet and sufficient physical activity is important for optimally reducing the risk of death from all causes, cardiovascular disease and cancers,” says co-author Joe Van Buskirk, from the School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health.
The researchers feel that doctors and public health officials should thus promote both physical exercise and a high-quality diet, as the data proves it may provide a significant improvement in overall health. “Public health messages and clinical advice should focus on promoting both physical activity and dietary guidelines to promote healthy longevity,” said Associate Professor Ding.