And, no, you can’t just exercise all that candy away

Also, really enjoyed this Vox feature on the limits of exercise in losing weight.  Exercise is awesome and definitely helps keep you healthy, but although calories in/calories out really does matter, the calories in is ultimately the far more important (and controllable) portion of the equation.  Here’s the infographic summary:

Well worth reading the whole thing.  Among the most interesting parts is the research on the “calories out:

Based on the research, Pontzer has proposed a new model that upends the the old “calories in, calories out” approach to exercise, where the body burns more calories with more physical activity in a linear relationship (also known as the “additive” model of energy expenditure).

He calls this the “constrained model” of energy expenditure, which shows that the effect of more physical activity on the human body is not linear. In light of our evolutionary history — when food sources were less reliable — he argues that the body sets a limit on how much energy it is willing to expend, regardless of how active we are.

“The overarching idea,” Pontzer explained, “is that the body is trying to defend a particular energy expenditure level no matter how active you get.”

Meanwhile, since this is Vox, the policy angle:

9) The government and the food industry are doling out unscientific advice

Since 1980, the obesity prevalence has doubled worldwide with about 13 percent of the global population now registering as obese, according to the World Health Organization. In the United States, nearly 70 percent of the population is either overweight or obese.

A lack of exercise and too many calories have been depicted as equal causes of the crisis. But as researchers put it in an article in BMJ, “You cannot outrun a bad diet.”

Since at least the 1950s, Americans have been told that we can. This Public Health Reports paper outlines the dozens of government departments and organizations — from the American Heart Association to the US Department of Agriculture — whose campaigns suggested more physical activity (alone or in addition to diet) to reverse weight gain.

Unfortunately, we are losing the obesity battle because we are eating more than ever. But the exercise myth is still regularly deployed by the food and beverage industry — which are increasingly under fire for selling us too many unhealthy products.

And here’s the final weight loss advice:

If you embark on a weight-loss journey that involves both adding exercise and cutting calories, Montclair’s Diana Thomas warned not to count those calories burned in physical activity toward extra eating.

“Pretend you didn’t exercise at all,” she said. “You will most likely compensate anyway so think of exercising just for health improvement but not for weight loss.”

For the record, in my N of 1, I totally count the exercise (though not calorie counting today with all those mini Twix to come) and I have consistently lost weight whenever I have calorie counted.  I’ve even been known to go for a run for the explicit purpose of enjoying dessert later.  Anyway, the overall point still holds.  Be sensible and focus on calories in.  And exercise, because being healthy is good.

The best use of statistics ever?

I love candy.  And I love this 538 feature using head-to-head comparisons and statistics to figure out what makes various candy appealing.  For myself, I’m all about chewy.  Love laffy taffy, gummies, twizzlers.  And, of course, chocolate.  What kind of failed human doesn’t love chocolate.  Anyway, here’s the top of the ranking (whole thing at the link):

I do love both twix and kit kat, which are near the top.  I enjoy Reese’s, but did not realize the combination of chocolate and peanut butter was so beloved.  What makes this extra cool, though, is the OLS regression model to determine which features make candy most appealing.

So, there you go, not just chocolate and peanut butter, but fruit flavors.  Now, what the statistician in me really wants to see is an interaction term for chocolate and peanut butter together.  I strongly suspect that would be statistically significant.

Anyway, happy Halloween!  Rest assured, I will be plucking twix, kit kat, and twizzlers right out of my kids’ Halloween pumpkins tonight as candy tax.

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