Exercise alone is not enough: weight loss also needs a healthy (Mediterranean) diet?

Public Health Nutr. 2009 Sep;12(9A):1663-6. doi: 10.1017/S1368980009990528.


Objective: In the majority of exercise intervention studies, the aggregate reported weight loss is often small. The efficacy of exercise as a weight loss tool remains in question. The aim of the present study was to investigate the variability in appetite and body weight when participants engaged in a supervised and monitored exercise programme.

Design: Fifty-eight obese men and women (BMI = 31.8 +/- 4.5 kg/m2) were prescribed exercise to expend approximately 2092 kJ (500 kcal) per session, five times a week at an intensity of 70 % maximum heart rate for 12 weeks under supervised conditions in the research unit. Body weight and composition, total daily energy intake and various health markers were measured at weeks 0, 4, 8 and 12.

Results: Mean reduction in body weight (3.2 +/- 1.98 kg) was significant (P < 0.001); however, there was large individual variability (-14.7 to +2.7 kg). This large variability could be largely attributed to the differences in energy intake over the 12-week intervention. Those participants who failed to lose meaningful weight increased their food intake and reduced intake of fruits and vegetables.

Conclusion: These data have demonstrated that even when exercise energy expenditure is high, a healthy diet is still required for weight loss to occur in many people.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Body Composition / physiology
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Diet, Mediterranean*
  • Diet, Reducing
  • Energy Intake / physiology*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Waist Circumference / physiology