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Should health policy focus on physical activity rather than obesity? Yes

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 25 May 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c2603
  1. Richard Weiler, specialist registrar in sport and exercise medicine, locum general practitioner1,
  2. Emmanuel Stamatakis, senior research associate2,
  3. Steven Blair, professor3
  1. 1Department of Trauma and Orthopaedics, Charing Cross Hospital, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London W6 8RF
  2. 2Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London
  3. 3Departments of Exercise Science and Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, USA
  1. Correspondence to: R Weiler: richard.weiler{at}

    Richard Weiler and colleagues argue that losing weight is not essential to get benefit from physical activity, but Timothy Gill and colleagues (doi:10.1136/bmj.c2602) believe that tackling all the causes of obesity is essential to improve public health

    Physical inactivity is one of the greatest health threats facing developed nations today. In his latest annual report England’s chief medical officer acknowledged that the benefits of regular physical activity on health, longevity, and well being “easily surpass the effectiveness of any drugs or other medical treatment.”1

    When activity is measured objectively with accelerometers, 95% of the population in England2 and the United States3 did not meet the admittedly modest recommended amounts of weekly physical activity to confer important health benefits (30 minutes’ moderate to vigorous  physical activity on at least five days a week or equivalent4 5). This is alarming given that numerous authoritative sources, including a systematic review6 and consensus statements from the International Association for the Study of Obesity7 and the British Association for Sport and Exercise Sciences,8 have all concluded that meeting these targets is not enough to prevent obesity and that even more …

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