UN data help balance New Year’s weight loss resolutions – Global Issues

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has published useful new data from its Double Labeled Water (DLW) Database, which provides insight into the effectiveness of exercise in stimulating weight loss.

The results are not as simple as you might think.

“When enrolled in weight loss exercise programs, most people lose a little weight, some individuals lose a lot, but a few unfortunate individuals actually gain weight,” said John Speakman, chairman of the DLW Database Management Group and one of ‘ the authors of the study.

Treadmill effect

According to the study, in individuals with a normal body mass index of between 18.5 and 24.9, the body will burn calories burned during exercise by 28 percent – meaning that just 72 percent of the calories in the course of ‘ lose the day.

However, with age and weight, this ratio decreases, and those with the highest body mass index will only lose 51 percent of the calories burned in exercise.

The study confirms that individuals differ in the way their bodies use budget energy, and people living with obesity may have difficulty losing weight because their bodies are efficient at maintaining their fat storage.

 Track and field athlete and member of the Olympic Team of Tokyo 2020 refugee Anlelina Nadai Lohalith, originally from South Sudan, is training on a track in Nairobi.

© UNHCR / Benjamin Loyseau

Track and field athlete and member of the Olympic Team of Tokyo 2020 refugee Anlelina Nadai Lohalith, originally from South Sudan, is training on a track in Nairobi.

More than just exercise

There are many health benefits that can be gained by being active and exercising, but relying on exercise alone will not help you lose weight.“, said Alexia Alford, an IAEA nutritionist and co-author.

Guidelines for weight loss do not consider the reduction of calories burned by other regular life functions, because the body compensates for the calories burned during exercise.

“As you increase your activity, your body will compensate for it in other areas and cut down on the calories burned in breathing, digestion, fidgeting, and in general body maintenance and function,” she explained. “This can actually throw up quite a lot.”

Combining a healthy diet with a more balanced lifestyle is the key to maintain a caloric deficit for weight loss, according to the co-author.

The use of DLW to study the total energy expenditure of a body is not new, but the high cost of oxygen-18 and the machines to measure it have kept the studies small so far.

In 2018, the IAEA was approached by a group of DLW researchers who wanted to make their datasets more widely available, and the IAEA DLW database was developed.

Today, the database has DLW data of more than 7,600 people, making it the world’s largest collection.

Free and accessible to researchers with defined management-approved questions, the IAEA DLW Database contains information on various cases, ranging from athletes to cancer patients and people with cerebral palsy.

‘Lost Treasury’

Because most of the data comes from studies conducted in Western countries, such as the United States and the Netherlands, the IAEA is seeking to further expand the dataset to include Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

Next year, it will launch a coordinated research project to add more lower-income country data.

“Our database is an invaluable value for a better understanding of how the human body functions. This exercise study is a great example; while most DLW studies generally involve about 30 subjects, the exercise study had more than 1,600, which is the makes data very robust, ”said Ms Alford.

“The data in the IAEA DLW database is an unaffected treasure, and we encourage researchers to reach out to us to access their content and contribute their own datasets.”


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