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Myths and Misconceptions About Obesity

We spend a lot of our time correcting diet and physical activity myths to help people achieve their weight loss goals. Here’s a few to help you out:

“I am overweight because I have a slow metabolism”

This is a common myth among dieters who are struggling to lose weight. Individuals do not have a fast or slow metabolism and there is no way that doctors can test the speed of your metabolism in your GP surgery!

Studies have shown that resting metabolism - the number of calories used by the body at rest – actually INCREASES as people become heavier. In other words, the larger you are the more calories you use to keep your body going.

Being fit and increasing your lean muscle tissue is one way to increase your metabolism. Essentially, the fitter you are, and the more lean muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn both at rest and during exercise – thus making weight maintenance and weight control easier.

“I'm not overweight, I’m just big boned”

This is partly true. Some people have bigger skeletal frames than others. It’s better to say that someone has a small, medium or large frame rather than being big boned. However having a large frame in the terms of weight management will not have a huge impact. An adult skeleton only weighs between 2 and 4 kilograms (4-8 lbs), whereas an adult male in the healthy weight range has a total weight of around 70 kilograms (10½ stone).

“It's just puppy fat”

A common misconception is around “puppy fat”. Many parents dismiss weight gain as “puppy fat” and that their children will grow out of it in their next growth spurt. However, research shows that children are more likely to continue to put on weight and not grow out of it as their parents might think.

“Childhood obesity is the parents' fault”

If your child is overweight it is important to remember it is not a blame game.

As a family, if a child is overweight, every member has to be committed to the child’s weight problem, especially the parents or primary caregiver. The person responsible for buying the food that’s in the house and which is provided at meal times has a key responsibility to provide healthy options for all occasions. However it must be recognised that there are other people who will feed your child and that children are away at school for several hours a day. This means that there are periods of time where parents do not have control over their children’s choices.

“Childhood obesity is caused by fast food”

No single category of food causes obesity. It is the consumption of too many calories over a sustained period of time which causes a person to become obese.

In today’s society there are plenty of opportunities for us to tuck into high-calorie foods from fast food chains, or even the supermarket; the point is that it is about knowledge of what we are eating vs what our bodies need; managing this is our responsibility.

Burgers and fries don’t make you fat; it’s the decision to eat too much too often and not maintain a healthy lifestyle that can cause us to over consume calories and store excess fat.

“Childhood obesity is caused by too much TV and video games”

As a nation we don't do enough exercise. Kids especially need to be very active, getting out of breath for at least an hour each day.

So once again, it’s not TV and video games that cause obesity, it is anything that is displacing the time that we could be spending being active.

Screen-time is 'weight gain time' so it is important that parents should limit the amount of time the whole family watch telly and encourage involvement in physical activity whilst being a great role-model for being active.

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