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Health Club Management

Health Club Management

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UNITING THE WORLD OF FITNESS
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Health Club Management

Health Club Management

features

Editor’s letter: Media irresponsibility

Published in Health Club Management 2014 issue 9
With the nation dying from obesity and related conditions, it’s irresponsible to give people grounds to opt out of activity

Going to the gym can make you fat – that’s what the UK’s media would have us believe.

Recent headlines have been full of sensational health claims based on comments by Dr Michael Mosley, the 5:2 diet advocate and TV’s go-to health expert. For example, a Daily Mail feature following his appearance on ITV’s This Morning claimed people never lose weight from going to the gym; that the ‘endorphin rush’ of exercise is a myth; and that, even if people do exercise, they may not get fitter.

Is there a case to answer here? Fundamentally no, and to the last point as an example, while it’s true some people will respond better to exercise and gain quicker results than others, research shows even so-called ‘exercise non-responders’ get important benefits from exercise. The key is to tailor programmes to allow for individual body types.

But that’s completely missing the point. The overall message, and the media’s interpretation of it – with headlines in the Mail such as ‘Going to the gym can make you fatter’ – was damaging and irresponsible. Given the UK’s well reported inactivity pandemic, why give people a justification to reject exercise before they even start? As ukactive CEO Dave Stalker said: “These kinds of ill-informed comments set us back years by inaccurately skewing the accepted wisdom for thousands of consumers.”

Because people listen to those held up by the media as ‘health gurus’, especially when their name is preceded by the title of doctor. If someone in this position urges people not to exercise but to diet, offering them a novel way to do so – such as the 5:2 diet – this is what they’re likely to do.

But in the process, they would miss out on all the other scientifically proven benefits of exercise that go far beyond weight loss: the prevention of cancer, diabetes and other chronic diseases, as well as mental health conditions such as depression and Alzheimer’s, to name just a few.

The fitness industry has rightly been up in arms. “It’s extremely troubling when so-called experts make controversial statements which secure column inches and book sales but which will ultimately damage our already poor public health,” said Gym Group CEO John Treharne, while Leisure Media’s Liz Terry observed: “Journalists need to be more responsible about the way they report on these challenges or we will end up drowning in a sea of fat.”

Certainly we need more consistent, responsible journalism from the nation’s most-read titles. Only in July, the Mail ran a story with the headline: ‘Lack of exercise is to blame for bulging waistlines and obesity epidemic, NOT eating more calories.’ Such inconsistency is sloppy and confuses people.

And when it comes to the experts, rather than competing for the obesity buck, we need a more collaborative approach, acknowledging that exercise and diet are two sides of the same coin; as our sector has always maintained, it’s all about calories in = calories out.

At a time when the nation is dying from obesity and related conditions, it’s quite simply irresponsible for the media to give people grounds to opt out of activity.

Kate Cracknell, editor

[email protected] @HealthClubKate

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With the nation dying from obesity and related issues, it’s irresponsible to give people grounds to opt out of activity, says Kate Cracknell
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features

Editor’s letter: Media irresponsibility

Published in Health Club Management 2014 issue 9
With the nation dying from obesity and related conditions, it’s irresponsible to give people grounds to opt out of activity

Going to the gym can make you fat – that’s what the UK’s media would have us believe.

Recent headlines have been full of sensational health claims based on comments by Dr Michael Mosley, the 5:2 diet advocate and TV’s go-to health expert. For example, a Daily Mail feature following his appearance on ITV’s This Morning claimed people never lose weight from going to the gym; that the ‘endorphin rush’ of exercise is a myth; and that, even if people do exercise, they may not get fitter.

Is there a case to answer here? Fundamentally no, and to the last point as an example, while it’s true some people will respond better to exercise and gain quicker results than others, research shows even so-called ‘exercise non-responders’ get important benefits from exercise. The key is to tailor programmes to allow for individual body types.

But that’s completely missing the point. The overall message, and the media’s interpretation of it – with headlines in the Mail such as ‘Going to the gym can make you fatter’ – was damaging and irresponsible. Given the UK’s well reported inactivity pandemic, why give people a justification to reject exercise before they even start? As ukactive CEO Dave Stalker said: “These kinds of ill-informed comments set us back years by inaccurately skewing the accepted wisdom for thousands of consumers.”

Because people listen to those held up by the media as ‘health gurus’, especially when their name is preceded by the title of doctor. If someone in this position urges people not to exercise but to diet, offering them a novel way to do so – such as the 5:2 diet – this is what they’re likely to do.

But in the process, they would miss out on all the other scientifically proven benefits of exercise that go far beyond weight loss: the prevention of cancer, diabetes and other chronic diseases, as well as mental health conditions such as depression and Alzheimer’s, to name just a few.

The fitness industry has rightly been up in arms. “It’s extremely troubling when so-called experts make controversial statements which secure column inches and book sales but which will ultimately damage our already poor public health,” said Gym Group CEO John Treharne, while Leisure Media’s Liz Terry observed: “Journalists need to be more responsible about the way they report on these challenges or we will end up drowning in a sea of fat.”

Certainly we need more consistent, responsible journalism from the nation’s most-read titles. Only in July, the Mail ran a story with the headline: ‘Lack of exercise is to blame for bulging waistlines and obesity epidemic, NOT eating more calories.’ Such inconsistency is sloppy and confuses people.

And when it comes to the experts, rather than competing for the obesity buck, we need a more collaborative approach, acknowledging that exercise and diet are two sides of the same coin; as our sector has always maintained, it’s all about calories in = calories out.

At a time when the nation is dying from obesity and related conditions, it’s quite simply irresponsible for the media to give people grounds to opt out of activity.

Kate Cracknell, editor

[email protected] @HealthClubKate

Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/HCM2014_9editor.jpg
With the nation dying from obesity and related issues, it’s irresponsible to give people grounds to opt out of activity, says Kate Cracknell
Kate Cracknell, Editor, Health Club Management,Obesity, diet, Michael Mosley, Daily Mail, media
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Click on a catalogue to view it online
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Servicesport UK Limited: Independent service & maintenance
Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
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Diary dates
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