To lose weight, burn more calories than you consume; you need to exercise more and eat less

As many can attest, just dieting or just exercising does not always lead to weight loss, and this often leads to frustration, especially in a society where more than one-third of U.S. adults are obese.

The solution to this problem is energy balance, according to a paper published collaboratively in the official journals of the American College of Sports Medicine and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

“It is time we collectively move beyond debating nutrition or exercise and focus on nutrition and exercise,” co-author Melinda Manore said. “Nutrition and exercise professionals working collaboratively, combined with effective public health messaging about the importance of energy balance, can help America shape up and become healthier.”

It is not as if U.S. adults don’t think about their weight, diet or physical activity. The Pew Research Center found that 60 percent of U.S. adults say they track their diet, weight or exercise routine. But despite all this awareness, Americans remain obese.

Obesity is known to lead to diabetes, heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure other huge health issues in Kentucky. According to the F as in Fat report, 31.3 percent of Kentuckians are considered obese, a number that has increased steadily since 1990, when the rate was only 12.7 percent. And with this high rate of obesity, Kentucky has the diseases that go with it. Kentucky ranks first in the nation for cancer deaths, eighth in cardiovascular deaths and 13th in diabetes, according to a report from America’s Health Rankings.

People need to understand that diet and exercise must be combined to move toward a solution to the obesity epidemic, according to the authors.

The National Institute of Health also encourages energy balance. Describing energy balance as the balance of calories consumed through eating and drinking (energy in) compared to calories burned through physical activity (energy out).  The same amount of energy in (calories consumed) and energy out (calories burned) over time will cause your weight to stay the same. More energy in than energy out over time will cause weight gain, and more energy out than energy in over time will cause weight loss.

The paper outlines the following steps to incorporate energy balance principles into public health outreach in the U.S.:

  • Make energy balance a part of the curriculum for both exercise science and nutrition professionals. Collaboration is the key.
  • Create competencies for schools, making physical education teachers energy balance advocates. 
  • Use federally-funded nutrition programs to incorporate energy balance solutions.
  • Develop a public relations strategy to promote energy balance solutions. 
  • Recognize and support existing programs that already emphasize energy balance strategies. 

 “Our health professionals are currently working in silos and must work together to educate and promote energy balance as the key to better health,” Manore said. “The obesity crisis is one of the greatest public health challenges of our generation. Energy balance can help us work toward a solution so our children aren’t saddled with the same health challenges we currently face.”

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