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Focusing on obesity ‘is a mistake,’ says ukactive chief

By Jak Phillips    23 Apr 2015
Stalker called on the UK’s next government to establish tackling physical inactivity as a top tier public health priority

ukactive CEO David Stalker has warned of the dangers of focusing public health policy solely on tackling obesity, after a trio of scientists said it was time to "bust the myth" about exercise.

In an editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, three international experts said physical activity is insignificant in the fight against obesity and called for public health messages to focus squarely on unhealthy eating. The editorial – which says excess sugar and carbohydrates are the primary causes of obesity – has made national headlines this morning (23 April).

However, Stalker believes the paper adopts a flawed approach to improving public health and says looking at obesity in terms of waist sizes is tantamount to “tackling yesterday's problem.” He cited a recent study from Cambridge University which found that physical inactivity is twice as deadly as obesity.

"Unfortunately the (British Journal of Sports Medicine) paper falls into the trap of only looking at the physical inactivity agenda through the lens of obesity,” said Stalker.

“Conflating the two issues is a mistake that consecutive governments have fallen into and we must avoid doing the same."

Stalker called on the UK’s next government to follow the recent recommendations of the Health Select Committee and establish turning the tide of inactivity as a top tier public health priority in its own right.

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