A personalised weight loss ‘prescription’ to help overweight and obese peopleunderstand their ‘energy gap’.

This should be the long-term goal of both developed and developing societiesstruggling with the alarming increase in obesity, a leading Queensland researchersays.

Speaking at the Gold Coast Health and Medical Research Conference 2012this week, Professor Andrew Hills from the Griffith Health Institute says he isexploring the size of the ‘energy gap’ between normal weight and obesity. Theenergy gap is the ‘mismatch’ between the energy required to maintain a healthyweight and the amount of excess energy that leads to weight gain.

“We know that overweight people are not in energy balance; they are eating morethan they need for the amount of energy that they’re using with many notexpending as much energy as they believe they are alternatively, overcompensatingwith too much food or not enough exercise,” says Professor Hills.

“It can be very difficult for people to manage their weight over time and the factorsinvolved can be different for everyone.”

Finding the energy balance

“If people can be helped to become more aware of how their food intake andenergy expenditure can be balanced then they may be less likely to make poornutrition decisions.”

“Too often, we are providing people with generic rules such as the Government’s ’30 minutes a day’ structured physical activity advice. This is fine as a startingpoint but we should be able to help people improve their body composition usingoptimal diet and exercise approaches which have been derived from meaningfuldata.”

“Unfortunately there is no immediate quick fix and the factors involved in obesityremain very complex, however governments, education and health professionsneed to be better educated on how to advise people about the issues.”

“If we can give individuals specific advice which is tailored to their particular needsthen this would prove a much more effective way of looking at the issues.”