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Myths, presumptions, and facts about obesity.

The New England journal of medicine

Diet, Reducing, Breast Feeding, therapy, prevention & control, physiopathology, Obesity, Male, Humans, Goals, Female, physiology, Exercise, Environment, Energy Metabolism, Energy Intake, Weight Loss

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      Abstract

      Many beliefs about obesity persist in the absence of supporting scientific evidence (presumptions); some persist despite contradicting evidence (myths). The promulgation of unsupported beliefs may yield poorly informed policy decisions, inaccurate clinical and public health recommendations, and an unproductive allocation of research resources and may divert attention away from useful, evidence-based information. Using Internet searches of popular media and scientific literature, we identified, reviewed, and classified obesity-related myths and presumptions. We also examined facts that are well supported by evidence, with an emphasis on those that have practical implications for public health, policy, or clinical recommendations. We identified seven obesity-related myths concerning the effects of small sustained increases in energy intake or expenditure, establishment of realistic goals for weight loss, rapid weight loss, weight-loss readiness, physical-education classes, breast-feeding, and energy expended during sexual activity. We also identified six presumptions about the purported effects of regularly eating breakfast, early childhood experiences, eating fruits and vegetables, weight cycling, snacking, and the built (i.e., human-made) environment. Finally, we identified nine evidence-supported facts that are relevant for the formulation of sound public health, policy, or clinical recommendations. False and scientifically unsupported beliefs about obesity are pervasive in both scientific literature and the popular press. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health.).

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      Most cited references 29

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      Lifestyle, diabetes, and cardiovascular risk factors 10 years after bariatric surgery.

      Weight loss is associated with short-term amelioration and prevention of metabolic and cardiovascular risk, but whether these benefits persist over time is unknown. The prospective, controlled Swedish Obese Subjects Study involved obese subjects who underwent gastric surgery and contemporaneously matched, conventionally treated obese control subjects. We now report follow-up data for subjects (mean age, 48 years; mean body-mass index, 41) who had been enrolled for at least 2 years (4047 subjects) or 10 years (1703 subjects) before the analysis (January 1, 2004). The follow-up rate for laboratory examinations was 86.6 percent at 2 years and 74.5 percent at 10 years. After two years, the weight had increased by 0.1 percent in the control group and had decreased by 23.4 percent in the surgery group (P<0.001). After 10 years, the weight had increased by 1.6 percent and decreased by 16.1 percent, respectively (P<0.001). Energy intake was lower and the proportion of physically active subjects higher in the surgery group than in the control group throughout the observation period. Two- and 10-year rates of recovery from diabetes, hypertriglyceridemia, low levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, hypertension, and hyperuricemia were more favorable in the surgery group than in the control group, whereas recovery from hypercholesterolemia did not differ between the groups. The surgery group had lower 2- and 10-year incidence rates of diabetes, hypertriglyceridemia, and hyperuricemia than the control group; differences between the groups in the incidence of hypercholesterolemia and hypertension were undetectable. As compared with conventional therapy, bariatric surgery appears to be a viable option for the treatment of severe obesity, resulting in long-term weight loss, improved lifestyle, and, except for hypercholesterolemia, amelioration in risk factors that were elevated at baseline. Copyright 2004 Massachusetts Medical Society.
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        Energy balance and obesity.

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          Metabolic equivalents (METS) in exercise testing, exercise prescription, and evaluation of functional capacity.

          One metabolic equivalent (MET) is defined as the amount of oxygen consumed while sitting at rest and is equal to 3.5 ml O2 per kg body weight x min. The MET concept represents a simple, practical, and easily understood procedure for expressing the energy cost of physical activities as a multiple of the resting metabolic rate. The energy cost of an activity can be determined by dividing the relative oxygen cost of the activity (ml O2/kg/min) x by 3.5. This article summarizes and presents energy expenditure values for numerous household and recreational activities in both METS and watts units. Also, the intensity levels (in METS) for selected exercise protocols are compared stage by stage. In spite of its limitations, the MET concept provides a convenient method to describe the functional capacity or exercise tolerance of an individual as determined from progressive exercise testing and to define a repertoire of physical activities in which a person may participate safely, without exceeding a prescribed intensity level.
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            Author and article information

            Journal
            23363498
            3606061
            10.1056/NEJMsa1208051

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