Diet and Physical Activity Behaviors

The WHO analysis identified a number of key dietary and physical activity behaviors, amenable to change, that could conceivably influence energy balance sufficiently to contribute to the prevention of weight gain and obesity. Behaviors that reduced the risk of obesity included regular physical activity, high dietary fiber intake, and possibly breast-feeding and low glycemic index diets. Behaviors that increased the risk of obesity included a high intake of energy-dense foods, a high intake of sugar-sweetened drinks and juices, time spent in sedentary behaviors, and possibly large portion sizes, a high intake of fast foods, and a restrained eating pattern.

The area of dietary and physical activity antecedents to weight gain and obesity is still poorly understood and new research findings, which help clarify our understanding, are being presented on a regular basis. In addition, different behaviors are more prevalent or pronounced in different regions of the world. It is therefore difficult to give definitive recommendations on the most important and useful behaviors to target in obesity prevention strategies. However, strong evidence exists to support the inclusion of some key behaviors.

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