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Don’t blame Maccas for your fat kid

By 22 November 2012 21

The ANU has the bad news for parents that physical activity has more to do with childhood obesity than what they eat.

So blaming junk food advertising isn’t going to cut it.

Lead researcher Professor Richard Telford from the ANU College of Medicine, Biology and Environment and the Clinical Trials Unit at The Canberra Hospital said the new aspect of the LOOK study provides some of the strongest evidence to date in the important debate around how best to tackle childhood obesity.

“Our four-year study of 734 otherwise healthy Australian children in the general community, aged between 8 and 12 years, found that the main difference between lean and overweight children was that lean children were more physically active,” Professor Telford said.

“Children with a higher proportion of body fat, even those considered obese, did not consume more kilojoules – they did not eat more fat, carbohydrate or sugar – than those who were lean.

“Indeed, our study found that leaner boys actually consumed more kilojoules over the four years of the study than overweight boys, but were much more physically active.

“The data also indicated that if a child became more active during the four years he or she became leaner. Alternatively, a child who became less active increased his or her body fat percent.”

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21 Responses to Don’t blame Maccas for your fat kid
#1
bundah6:51 pm, 22 Nov 12

No way, really, who woulda thought? In the words of one Mr. Miyagi wax on wax off!

#2
gooterz8:29 pm, 22 Nov 12

So the nazi treatment of school lunches by the government was all for nothing.

Applause for all those that think kids would be as fit, healthy and active on a salad.

#3
Tetranitrate9:06 pm, 22 Nov 12

bundah said :

No way, really, who woulda thought? In the words of one Mr. Miyagi wax on wax off!

This isn’t really that obvious – the research is attempting to quantify the influence of various factors, and it’s very much worthwhile to know that physical activity is significantly more influential than diet.
That’s not some kind of intuitive fact that ‘everybody already knows’.

#4
wildturkeycanoe8:23 am, 23 Nov 12

Norm from the “Life Be In It” campaign pointed this out nearly 40 years ago. Why did it take a university study and how much spending to find out what we already knew?

#5
devils_advocate8:53 am, 23 Nov 12

I’m not questioning this research, however I will admit to finding it completely counter-intuitive and surprising. I know for myself, it is extemely difficult to get a shred going if I have even one cheat meal, I have to eat clean for weeks to get lean. For me, it’s definitely the quality of calories that counts, not just the quantity.

Probably kid’s metabamolism thingies work differently. Don’t know if this means that I would suddenly start feeding my kids bulk amounts of crap but it’s still very interesting, and food for thought.

I’d be interested to know the outcome of similar research on adults.

#6
Tetranitrate9:36 am, 23 Nov 12

devils_advocate said :

I’m not questioning this research, however I will admit to finding it completely counter-intuitive and surprising. I know for myself, it is extemely difficult to get a shred going if I have even one cheat meal, I have to eat clean for weeks to get lean. For me, it’s definitely the quality of calories that counts, not just the quantity.

Probably kid’s metabamolism thingies work differently. Don’t know if this means that I would suddenly start feeding my kids bulk amounts of crap but it’s still very interesting, and food for thought.

I’d be interested to know the outcome of similar research on adults.

Agreed when it comes to my personal experience as well – my guess is that it’s probably more to do the more physically active ones having higher base metabolic rates + energy expenditure from regular activity soas to have much higher energy needs.

#7
NoImRight10:05 am, 23 Nov 12

I dont think pointing out that exercise helps keep weight down means a proper diet is somehow now excluded. You cant just start wolfing down burgers while spouting “this isnt why Im fat”. A proper balance of diet and exercise is what we should be aiming for, not just looking for a single villian as an excuse.

#8
devils_advocate10:21 am, 23 Nov 12

NoImRight said :

I dont think pointing out that exercise helps keep weight down means a proper diet is somehow now excluded. You cant just start wolfing down burgers while spouting “this isnt why Im fat”. A proper balance of diet and exercise is what we should be aiming for, not just looking for a single villian as an excuse.

I don’t think anyone’s saying it’s excluded, it’s just far less important than we previously thought. I personally think the 4 year longitudinal study puts this research head and shoulders above most other studies in the field, or at least the ones that have been publicised by the mainstream media.

#9
devils_advocate10:27 am, 23 Nov 12

Tetranitrate said :

Agreed when it comes to my personal experience as well – my guess is that it’s probably more to do the more physically active ones having higher base metabolic rates + energy expenditure from regular activity soas to have much higher energy needs.

Well I have a pretty high base metabolic rate, and I am actually a good test/experiment subject in that my physical activity is very, very constant from one week to the next, the only change from one week to the next is my diet (including alcohol intake). If I eat just lean steak, veg and small amount of clean carbs, all is good. If I get lazy and eat junk, the effects become visible pretty quickly.

Whereas, this study seems to be suggesting that carbs, sugar and fat are not a significant predictor/not strongly correllated with obesity in children, rather its the level of activity. This is the bit that is surprising to me.

#10
astrojax12:47 pm, 23 Nov 12

my kid’s fat – i blame macdonald’s…*

[*neither astromonkey or astro chicken are actually fat - quite lean, in fact - though i have never given maccas a cent of my hard earned... coincidence?]

#11
Erg012:54 pm, 23 Nov 12

devils_advocate said :

Whereas, this study seems to be suggesting that carbs, sugar and fat are not a significant predictor/not strongly correllated with obesity in children, rather its the level of activity. This is the bit that is surprising to me.

The key phrase there is probably “in children”. From what I gather, their metabolisms work pretty differently to an adult’s.

#12
Diggety1:24 pm, 23 Nov 12

Don’t blame Maccas for your fat kid

Blame your kid.

#13
Tetranitrate1:48 pm, 23 Nov 12

devils_advocate said :

Whereas, this study seems to be suggesting that carbs, sugar and fat are not a significant predictor/not strongly correllated with obesity in children, rather its the level of activity. This is the bit that is surprising to me.

Remember we’re talking about trends across a population.

We haven’t yet done a study where we take active kids, sedentary kids, divide both groups into control groups and test groups, then force feed the test groups McDonalds.

#14
NoImRight2:19 pm, 23 Nov 12

Diggety said :

Don’t blame Maccas for your fat kid

Blame your kid.

Its my kid’s fault your kid is fat?

#15
Pork Hunt5:32 pm, 23 Nov 12

I trust this is the same Dick Telford who was the founding director of the AIS ?

#16
fabforty5:43 pm, 23 Nov 12

Yes. Kids need exercise. So do adults. I don’t think we needed scientists to work this out.

I also don’t think we can just blame takeaway junk food. If you have a look at shopping trolleys you will often see them loaded with soft drink, chips, instant noodles and other processed food full of fat, sugar and salt.

If parents want to know what is making their kids fat, they should just look in the mirror. The buck stops right there. No excuses.

#17
milkman7:41 pm, 23 Nov 12

What? You mean that growing humans need to run around and climb stuff? Who woulda thunk it?

#18
Dacquiri10:08 pm, 23 Nov 12

I’ve been involved in public health research for more than 25 years, and this study makes me quite uneasy. (I am also disappointed at the superficial media reporting, but I guess what else can you expect, given that we no longer have journalists with real subject expertise, or even journalists who are encouraged to look for the story behind the story.)
There is now considerable evidence, compiled over the past 15 years or so, which shows thatit is that it is food, rather than physical activity, which has been the crucial factor in weight gain, on a population basis. Studies (primarily conducted in the USA because that’s where the money is) have calculated the contribution of dietary change and changes in physical activity to the population-wide gains in overweight and obesity — and it is food which wins every time, with changes in physical activity since about 1990 being not as great as you might think.
To provide proper information about these findings, you need to look at who was running the study (an exercise physiologist and former sportsman) and who is on the Advisory Board (more physical activity people and no experts in children’s nutrition) (http://www.look.org.au/about_us.htm).
It is then worth asking the question: is this an example of an objective study looking for answers in an unbiased way, or is this an example of a study which found what it set out to find?

#19
MrPC11:27 pm, 23 Nov 12

Is it correlation or causation? Are the lean children physically active or are the physically active children lean?

#20
Sandman8:35 am, 24 Nov 12

astrojax said :

my kid’s fat – i blame macdonald’s…*

[*neither astromonkey or astro chicken are actually fat - quite lean, in fact - though i have never given maccas a cent of my hard earned... coincidence?]

Gee, that’s pushing the boundaries of scientific procedures a bit. I’ve never taken my kids to a vegetarian restaurant, and they’re quite lean. Vegetarian restaurants must make your kids fat!

#21
switch8:53 am, 24 Nov 12

milkman said :

What? You mean that growing humans need to run around and climb stuff? Who woulda thunk it?

Yeah, that’s why you have to press button B on the xbox controller…

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