Fit or fat? Expert says activity more important than weight

This was in the paper, today… thought it was interesting.

Fit or fat? Expert says activity more important than weight

By Laura Millsaps
Staff Writer
Published: Friday, November 12, 2010 9:32 AM CST
Despite Americans’ obsession over their expanding waistlines and fad-of-the-minute diets to get the pounds off, leading physical activity expert Steven Blair said that “get moving” may be better health advice than “lose weight.”

Blair is a professor in the Departments of Exercise Science and Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health. He told a standing-room-only crowd at a lecture Thursday night at Iowa State University that it was better to be fit than thin, and that yes, it was possible to be fit and fat, which is not, according to Blair, what the public is hearing in the media. Over and over again, the public hears about the “obesity epidemic.”

“Do we have an obesity epidemic? Of course we do. You’d be a fool to argue otherwise,” Blair said.

What Blair said is misleading, is the reason why there is an obesity epidemic.

“‘We’re eating more.’ You’ve read that a million times in the newspapers,” Blair said.

The problem, Blair said, is we are not eating more.

Blair said according to decades of research by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey done by the Centers for Disease Control, calorie consumption has remained relatively steady over time. We are eating out more and eating higher-fat, less-healthy foods, but Americans are not really consuming more calories.

But as labor-intense jobs decreased due to mechanization and technology, as fieldwork gave way to office work, most people now work in jobs that can be done “all sitting on your rear end.”

Not only that, Blair said, it isn’t being overweight that is the biggest risk factor in mortality; it’s lack of physical activity. As a researcher tracking thousands of people about their weight, physical fitness and other health risk factors, Blair consistently has found that being a “couch potato” (the bottom 20 percent of people on the physical activity scale) is the worst risk factor. And that’s even if one is a skinny couch potato.

“The guys with big fat waists who also are fit have one-fifth the risk of dying than skinny guys with low fitness,” he said.

Blair defines moderate fitness levels as exercising the equivalent of 150 minutes per week, of moderate activity, such as brisk walking. This is also the recommendation of the U.S. Department of Health.

“It’s not a huge amount of activity,” Blair said. “Just 150 minutes a week is considered a moderate fitness level and is highly protective healthwise.”

Blair is the 2010-11 Dean Helen LeBaron Hilton Chair in the College of Human Sciences at ISU. In this role, Blair will visit the campus four times throughout the academic year, which included his lecture at the Memorial Union Thursday.

With more than 25,000 scholarly citations to his body of work, Blair is one of the world’s most frequently referenced exercise scientists.

I totally agree with this! I just think that exercise and just plain activity make such a difference. The latest fad diet of the moment really isn’t going to do anyone any good (although sensible eating will), but increasing your fitness level will do enormous good. So much emphasis is put on diet; I believe that WAY more should be put on incorporating movement and fitness into your life.

this article could be true my FF who has a BMI of less than 25 did 5 minutes of light elliptic machine and her heart rate skyrocketed to 126 not a good sign. I have an imbarassing BMI but for the same effort the HR was 104.