Diet or exercise? ‘Energy balance’ real key to disease prevention

June 25, 2014
American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)
A majority of urban professionals in large cities are overweight or obese, a factor in the rapid rise in common diseases like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure and more. According to research, energy balance is a viable health solution to address the disease epidemic.

This alarming trend can only be countered with information and awareness on how to draw the balance between food intake and physical activity. According to a paper published collaboratively in this month’s issues of the official journals of both the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, energy balance is key. The paper outlines steps to incorporate energy balance principles into public health outreach in the U.S.

“It is time we collectively move beyond debating nutrition or exercise and focus on nutrition and exercise,” said co-author and ACSM member Melinda Manore, Ph.D., R.D., C.S.S.D., FACSM of Oregon State University. Unfortunately, for most people who work out, the “reward” of eating unhealthy foods becomes the incentive to work out. In reality, working out has benefits of mobility and killing bad cells, while bad food increases bad cells. So a 60-min vigorous run should be viewed as a benefit rather than a reason for reward.

The paper, published in the July edition of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise® and in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, gives the following recommendations:

• Integrate energy balance into curriculum and training for both exercise science and nutrition professionals and strengthen collaborative efforts between them

• Develop competencies for school and physical education teachers and position them as energy balance advocates

• Develop core standards for schools that integrate the dynamic energy balance approach

• Work with federally-funded nutrition programs and school lunch programs to incorporate energy balance solutions

• Develop messaging and promotional strategies about energy balance

• Map out and support existing programs that emphasize energy balance

Health professionals currently work in silos. Doctors give medicines but don’t care about nutritional advise, nutrition professionals focus only on food input, and exercise specialists only look at “burn” and “earn” as an exercise philosophy. The paper is an outcome of the October 2012 expert panel meeting titled “Energy Balance at the Crossroads: Translating the Science into Action” hosted by ACSM, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA)/Agriculture Research Service.

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The above story is based on materials provided by American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

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