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The Leisure Media Company Ltd | Fit Tech promotion
The Leisure Media Company Ltd | Fit Tech promotion
The Leisure Media Company Ltd | Fit Tech promotion
features

Editor’s letter: Media irresponsibility

Published in Health Club Management 2014 issue 9

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 Fit Tech's weekly ezine and every issue of Fit Tech magazine free on digital.
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features

Editor’s letter: Media irresponsibility

Published in Health Club Management 2014 issue 9

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 Fit Tech's weekly ezine and every issue of Fit Tech magazine free on digital.
More features
Editor's letter

Into the fitaverse

Fitness is already among the top three markets in the metaverse, with new technology and partnerships driving real growth and consumer engagement that looks likely to spill over into health clubs, gyms and studios
Fit Tech people

Ali Jawad

Paralympic powerlifter and founder, Accessercise
Users can easily identify which facilities in the UK are accessible to the disabled community
Fit Tech people

Hannes Sjöblad

MD, DSruptive
We want to give our users an implantable tool that allows them to collect their health data at any time and in any setting
Fit Tech people

Jamie Buck

Co-founder, Active in Time
We created a solution called AiT Voice, which turns digital data into a spoken audio timetable that connects to phone systems
Profile

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Reverse Ageing

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Editor's letter

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Fit Tech People

Laurent Petit

Co-founder, Active Giving
The future of sports and fitness are dependent on the climate. Our goal is to positively influence the future of our planet by instilling a global vision of wellbeing and a sense of collective action
Fit Tech People

Adam Zeitsiff

CEO, Intelivideo
We don’t just create the technology and bail – we support our clients’ ongoing hybridisation efforts
Fit Tech People

Anantharaman Pattabiraman

CEO and co-founder, Auro
When you’re undertaking fitness activities, unless you’re on a stationary bike, in most cases it’s not safe or necessary to be tied to a screen, especially a small screen
Fit Tech People

Mike Hansen

Managing partner, Endorphinz
We noticed a big gap in the market – customers needed better insights but also recommendations on what to do, whether that be customer acquisition, content creation, marketing and more
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