Poor diet and the lack of physical activity are the main risk factors for overweight and obesity. Consequently, an increase in regular physical activity for any measure in the prevention or treatment of overweight or obesity is mandatory.
A combined approach of nutritional change and increased physical activity is most effective against overweight and obesity.
There is no doubt that moderate to intense physical activity is associated with a lower risk of developing obesity and is thus of great importance for preventive purposes (Chart 1). This relationship is most pronounced when the exercise duration is over 150 minutes per week, thus fulfilling the WHO physical activity recommendations.
Chart 1: Relationship between the amount of moderately intense physical activity and the reduced risk of obesity in adults (Jakicic et al., 2019).
There is strong scientific evidence that the best results in terms of BMI reduction, weight loss and body fat loss can be achieved with a combined approach of increased physical activity and diet (Figure 2). The effect of only sport or only diet change is much lower.
Chart 2: Major changes in BMI, body weight and body fat in overweight adolescents and young adults through increased physical activity combined with the nutritional intervention (data adapted from Stoner et al., 2016)
JAKICIC, J.M., POWELL, K.E., CAMPBELL, W.W., DIPIETRO, L., PATE, R.R., PESCATELLO, L.S.,. , , PIERCY, K.L. (2019). Physical Activity and the Prevention of Weight Gain in Adults. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 51 (6), 1262-1269. https://doi.org/10.1249/mss.0000000000001938 Stoner, L., Rowlands, D., Morrison, A., Credeur, D., Hamlin, M., Gaffney, K., , , Matheson, A. (2016). Efficacy of Exercise Intervention for Weight Loss in Overweight and Obesity Adolescents: Meta-Analysis and Implications. Sports Medicine, 46 (11), 1737-1751. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-016-0537-6
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