Obesity myths busted by Aston scientist

obesity myths
Learn what works and what doesn't before changing habits

9 January 2017

  • Aston University bioscientist busts popular myths about health and  weight
  • Do Something Good for JanUary campaign launches today
  • Learn what works and what doesn’t before changing eating and  exercising habits

Today sees the National Obesity Forum launch its JanUary campaign and Dr James Brown of Aston University sets out five common misconceptions about obesity and healthy living.

Formerly National Obesity Awareness Week, the campaign runs from 9-15 January and urges people to “Do Something Good for JanUary” by eating more healthily, losing weight and working on their fitness.

James, who is a lecturer in biology and biomedical science and who will be talking about fasting on C4’s How to Lose Weight Well tomorrow, 10 January, said: “With increased awareness among the general public regarding obesity, many people are looking to adopt healthier lifestyles. But, despite our best intentions, it’s all too easy to set about this in the wrong way.

“Initiatives like JanUary help to ensure our self-improvement drive doesn’t go to waste, bringing much-needed attention to reassessing our eating and exercising habits. First off, people should learn what works and what doesn’t.”

To mark the start of JanUary, he busts five common myths surrounding our health:

Myth 1: In order to lose weight, I simply need to increase the amount of exercise that I do.

Fact: Exercise on its own is unlikely to have a significant impact on weight loss. The most successful regime for losing weight should combine exercise and dieting. Dieting alone is the next best approach, followed by a focus on exercise to sustain weight loss.

Myth 2: Carbohydrates are bad and, in order to become healthier, I need to cut them out of my diet completely.

Fact: Taken as part of a healthy diet, carbohydrates are not at all bad. In fact, many of the healthiest foods, such as fruits and vegetables, are rich in carbs. It is the processed and added sugars in some types of carbs – white bread, for example – that are most damaging and should be avoided.

Myth 3: Low fat foods are my best option for a healthy diet.

Fact: This often isn’t the case because many processed low fat foods, such as yoghurt, are actually high in sugar to ensure they are palatable. If people opt for low fat foods, they should ensure they come without additives

Myth 4: My child may be overweight now, but this is likely to be puppy fat and I am sure he or she will lose this extra weight in later life.

Fact: Being overweight as a child is closely associated with obesity in later life. Parents should monitor their children’s weight, and ensure they have the right diet and exercise routine to prevent them from becoming obese.

Myth 5: The only way I can truly lose weight and avoid obesity is to invest in a gym membership and make sure I work out twice a week

Fact: There are alternative, potentially more effective ways to do this, such as ‘exercise snacking’. This involves multiple bouts of exercise for short periods during the day, such as 10 minutes after breakfast, lunch and dinner – a method that has be shown to control blood sugar better than a single, continuous workout. 


Notes to the editor

Dr James Brown  is a Lecturer in Biology and Biomedical Science in the School of Life and Health Sciences at Aston University: http://www.aston.ac.uk/lhs/staff/az-index/dr-james-brown/.

About Aston University - founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston University hasalways been a force for change. For 50 years the University has been transforming lives through pioneering research, innovative teaching and graduate employability success. Aston is renowned for its opportunity enabler through broad access and inspiring academics, providing education that is applied and has real impact on all areas of society, business and industry. True to Aston’s Coat of Arms which bears the word ‘Forward’, in 2016 Aston will hold a year-long anniversary celebration to recognise its heritage and achievements, but with a focus to drive forward the next stage in the University’s exciting journey. www.aston.ac.uk/50.

Aston's  Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive, Professor Alec Cameron, is the principal academic and executive officer of the University. Alec has overall responsibility for Aston's executive management and day-to-day direction. 

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