Aaron E. Carroll, THE WASHINGTON POST
(The Washington Post) — One of my family’s favorite shows is “The Biggest Loser.” Although some viewers don’t appreciate how it pushes people so hard to lose weight, the show probably inspires some overweight people to regain control of their lives.
But one of the most frustrating parts of the show, at least for me, is its overwhelming emphasis on exercise. Because when it comes to reaching a healthy weight, what you don’t eat is much, much more important.
Think about it this way: If an overweight man is consuming 1,000 more calories than he is burning and wants to be in energy balance, he can do it by exercising. But exercise consumes far fewer calories than many people think. Thirty minutes of jogging or swimming laps might burn off 350 calories. Many people, fat or fit, can’t keep up a strenuous 30-minute exercise regimen, day in and day out. They might exercise a few times a week, if that.
Or they could achieve the same calorie reduction by eliminating two 16-ounce sodas each day.