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Should health policy focus on physical inactivity rather than obesity? No

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c2602 (Published 25 May 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c2602
  1. Timothy P Gill, principal research fellow1,
  2. Louise A Baur, professor23,
  3. Lesley A King, adjunct senior lecturer3
  1. 1Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition and Exercise, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
  2. 2The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Locked Bag 4001, Westmead NSW 2145, Australia
  3. 3Sydney School of Public Health, University of Sydney
  1. Correspondence to: L Baur louiseb3{at}chw.edu.au

    Richard Weiler and colleagues (doi:10.1136/bmj.c2603) argue that losing weight is not essential to get benefit from physical activity, but Timothy Gill and colleagues believe that tackling all the causes of obesity is essential to improve public health

    Physical inactivity is a major contributor to the global burden of disease, being associated with a range of negative consequences for health, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, reduced functional capacity, and poorer mental health.1 Clearly the promotion of both increased physical activity and reduced inactivity must be important elements of any public health programme. However, a strategy that targets physical inactivity but ignores the problem of obesity is unlikely to bring overall improvements in health. We consider that such an approach is flawed.

    Diet and health

    High population prevalence of physical inactivity is just one marker of a society’s overall obesogenic lifestyle, which comprises a broad set of inappropriate environmental and behavioural patterns. A wide range of evidence from epidemiology, case-control studies, and clinical trials has identified poor quality nutrition (encompassing such elements as an increased intake of energy dense …

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