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With the growing number of obese individuals in the United States, specifically obese children, dealing with the underlying root cause is a pressing matter of public health research and treatment facilities. Diet and physical activity have different effects on body composition, but only physical activity has the ability to increase muscle mass and directly increase metabolic activity as a result (Brambilla, Pozzobon, & Pietrobelli, 2011). There is a strong relationship between the amount of physical activity and insulin sensitivity, which can lead to metabolic syndrome if activity is lacking (Brambilla et al., 2011). Most risk reduction for metabolic disorders came from regular, moderate-vigorous intensity physical activity, based on the improvement in cardiometabolic factors (Brambilla et al., 2011). The mental and emotional benefits of physical activity must be considered as equally as important in the health and well-being of the individual too (Brambilla et al., 2011).

Unfortunately, on the nutritional side of the coin, the problem is the current state of agriculture. Even when Americans aim to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet, they may come up short of the essential nutrients that fuel our body’s natural processes. The consequence of over-farming, incorrect storage of food, and the mass production and transit of food has left us with depleted soil and less than nutritious fruits and vegetables (Wienecke & Gruenwald, 2007). One long-term study measured the depletion of magnesium (24%), iron (27%) and calcium (46%) from 1940 to 1991 (Wienecke & Gruenwald, 2007). With global warming looming over our heads, the rising atmospheric content of CO2 also deprives our crops of beneficial nutrients (Wienecke & Gruenwald, 2007). Is our fate to become reliant on pill-based supplementation rather than a natural food diet? Is this sort of supplemental replacement therapy even effective?

Wienecke & Gruenwald (2007) found that for individuals in a state of deficiency for a particular nutrient, food-based nourishment was insufficient to replenish and combat the deficiency, which could only be overcome by pill-based supplementation. High risk groups for deficiency, such as athletes, elderly, food-sensitive/intolerant or immunosuppressed individuals may be especially in-need of this synthetic supplementation to restock nutrient reservoirs (Wienecke & Gruenwald, 2007). Regardless of where we get out nutrients, the main point is that we make an effort to educate our clients on the benefits of a healthy diet in addition to their efforts in the physical activity component.

Recent statistics state that 17% of all children and adolescents and 35% of all adults in the United States are obese (Wilson, 2016). In the study by Wilson (2016), it was found that adults who have lost 10% of their body weight and kept it off for more than twelve months achieved this by consuming less energy and engaging in more physical activity than their unsuccessful-weight –loss counterparts (Wilson, 2016). As fitness and health professionals, it is important to support the behavioral component in our weight loss clients, so that the weight loss is the most sustainable lifestyle change possible (Wilson, 2016). Unfortunately, this is one of the most under-recognized components in an individual’s weight loss journey, and support is often the difference between success and failure. Many fitness professionals prescribe extensive cardio fitness programming without regard for the nutritional component, or vice versa. I think the process should be comprehensive and considerate of all mental, emotional, and physical barriers to the client’s success.

 

References

Brambilla, P., Pozzobon, G., & Pietrobelli, A. (2011). Physical activity as the main therapeutic tool for metabolic syndrome in childhood. International Journal of Obesity, 35(1), 16-28.  

Wienecke, E. & Gruenwald, J. (2007). Nutritional supplementation: Is it necessary for everyone? Advances in Therapy, 24(5), 1126-1135.

Wilson, P. (2016). Physical Activity and Dietary Determinants of Weight Loss Success in the US General Population. American Journal of Public Health, 106(2), 321-326.