Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Reading more effective than running for weight loss?


In a sense.

In an article published in this fall's Journal of Consumer Affairs, Dr. Bidisha Mandal set out to determine the impact that food label reading and exercise had on weight.

She used data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth which in turn has followed 12,686 middle aged men and women, and included in the survey were questions regarding the use of food labels, as well as questions regarding levels of physical fitness.

Mandal divided folks into those who read food labels always/often and folks who regularly participated in vigorous activity. She then further subdivided folks into those who were trying to lose weight, those who trying to stay about the same weight and those who weren't trying to do anything about their weight. Finally she analyzed data from the 3,706 folks who between 2002 and 2006 who consistently reported actively trying to manage their weight.

She then looked at 4 different subgroups:

1. Folks who neither read food labels nor participated in vigorous physical activity
2. Folks who read food labels and participated in vigorous physical activity
3. Folks who read food labels but did not participate in vigorous physical activity
4. Folks who did not read food labels but did participate in vigorous physical activity

She then used some over my pay grade statistics that included this fancy looking equation


To determine the effects of label reading and vigorous exercise in various combinations on weight management.

What she found was rather fascinating.

First the expected - folks who are trying to manage their weight who read food labels and vigorously exercise are the folks who are the most successful.

Now the unexpected (for some). Folks who are trying to manage their weight who read food labels but don't exercise are more successful than those who are trying to manage their weight who exercise, but don't read food labels.

Bottom lines?

1. Knowledge is power.
2. It's easier to not eat calories than to burn them.

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