Exercise vs. Diet? What Children of the Amazon Can Teach Us About Weight Gain

Exercise vs. Diet(Diet)? What Children of the Amazon(ˈaməˌzän) Can Teach Us About Weight Gain(ɡān)

What we eat may be more important than how much we move when it comes to fighting obesity(ōˈbēsədē).

When children gain excess(ikˈses, ˈekses) weight, the culprit(ˈkəlprət) is more likely to be eating too much than moving too little, according to a fascinating(ˈfasəˌnādiNG) new study of children in Ecuador(ˈekwəˌdôr). The study compared the lifestyles, diets and body compositions of Amazonian(ˌaməˈzōnēən) children who live in rural(ˈro͝orəl), foraging(ˈfôrij) communities with those of other Indigenous(inˈdijənəs) children living in nearby towns, and the results have implications for the rising rates of obesity in both children and adults worldwide.

The in-depth study found that the rural children, who run, play and forage(ˈfôrij) for hours, are leaner(lēn) and more active than their urban counterparts(ˈkoun(t)ərˌpärt). But they do not burn more calories(ˈkal(ə)rē) day-to-day, a surprising finding that implicates the urban children’s modernized(ˈmädərˌnīz) diets in their weight gain. The findings also raise(rāz) provocative(prəˈväkədiv) questions about the interplay(ˈin(t)ərˌplā) of physical activity and metabolism(məˈtabəˌlizəm) and why exercise helps so little with weight loss, not only in children but the rest of us, too.