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News from September 2009

Does Reading the Media Make You Thin?

September 4, 2009

Perhaps there has never been a better example of why relying on the media for accurate information about health has always been sketchy at best.

This August’s online issue of TIME magazine featured a cover story and article blaming weight gain on exercise and increased appetite. The article, “Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin,” written by, John Cloud, posits that those who exercise are driven by post-exercise hunger to consume large quantities of food that is bad for them. Connecting human predisposition to store fat, increased appetite from exercise, and a greater inclination to self-reward ourselves for good behaviour, Cloud writes, “[M]any people eat more—and eat more junk food, like doughnuts—after going to the gym.”

According to Cloud, this is because exercise not only increases our appetite, it weakens our self-control.

Cloud further posits that exercise at schools may contribute to child obesity, reasoning that when children who have been forced to exercise at school go home, they will do less, and, because their appetites have been stimulated, they will eat more.

The story does admit that exercise has been linked to many health benefits, but focuses on the negative impact of exercise for weight loss.

The Experts Weigh In

The ACSM released statements taking “strong exception” to the article.
Timothy Church, one expert cited by Cloud, stated in the ACSM response that his professional opinions were misrepresented. Church notes that exercise and diet go together. “Virtually all people who lose weight and keep it off are exercising to maintain their weight.”

ACSM member, John Jakicic, PhD and FACSM says,“The statement that ‘ in general, for weight loss, exercise is pretty useless’ is not supported by the scientific evidence when there is adherence to a sufficient dose of physical activity in overweight and obese adults.”

ACSM member, Dr. Janet Rankin states, “A practical response to the claim that exercise makes you eat more and gain weight is to look around. If this were the case, wouldn’t those who regularly exercise be the fattest? Obviously that isn’t the case.”

What do you think?

Read the Provincial Fitness Unit Response in this autumn’s issue of the Fitness Informer.

Time Article