How do we tackle obesity, a problem that affects one in three Americans? As the First Lady’s “Let’s Move!” campaign, as well as various big food companies like Coca-Cola and Nestlé, would have you believe, it’s all about burning off the calories. Coca-Cola, for instance, spent $3.3 billion on advertising that pushed out a message of “calories in, calories out,” linking their drinks to active lifestyles. But according to a research-backed editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, physical activity is not inherently linked to weight loss. Instead, we should be focusing on what we are putting into our bodies, as opposed to sweating it all out. As the title of the editorial suggests, “You Cannot Outrun a Bad Diet."
“In the past 30 years, as obesity has rocketed, there has been little change in physical activity levels in the Western population,” the authors of the editorial say. “This places the blame for our expanding waist lines directly on the type and amount of calories consumed. However, the obesity epidemic represents only the tip of a much larger iceberg of the adverse health consequences of poor diet.”
Now, that does not mean that we should give up and sink into the couch while munching on carrots. After all, exercise does have important positive cardiovascular effects, and can help ward off diabetes. But, according to the authors of this editorial, consuming just one can of Coca-Cola can create an 11-fold increase in the prevalence of diabetes, regardless of how many games of pick-up basketball you play afterwards.