Promoting a unified message on diet and physical activity

A recent commentary published in the Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Prevention examines the advantages of using an energy-balance framework to unify diet and physical activity messages so that adults and their children are better able to understand and follow these guidelines.

Energy balance is an essential principle of weight regulation. Maintaining a healthy body weight is fundamentally a balance between the amount of food eaten and the amount of energy expended throughout the day. So, if a person eats fewer calories than he or she expends weight loss will occur. The opposite is also true; if a person’s energy intake is consistently higher than his or hers energy expenditure then the result is weight gain.

The authors argue that many adults often think of the recommendations on diet to be separate from those on physical activity when in fact nutrition and physical activity are correlated. They also review research, which has shown that adults who combine a healthy diet and a physically active lifestyle are able to maintain a healthy weight and reduce their risk for disease.

The authors also point out that the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association have integrated their respective diet/physical activity/body weight recommendations into single documents and argue for the same to be done on the clinical level.

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