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7 Myths continued...

Current-day gym classes play a key role in reducing or preventing childhood obesity.

Physical education, as typically provided, has not been shown to reduce or prevent obesity.

Breastfeeding protects the child from obesity.

While breastfeeding can provide health benefits for the child, the evidence does not support the idea that preventing obesity is one of them.

A bout of sexual activity burns 100 to 300 calories per person.

With intense sexual activity, a 154-pound man burns approximately 3.5 calories per minute. However, given that the average amount of time spent during sex is about six minutes, this man might expend about 21 calories total. But, he would burn about 7 calories per minute just lying on the couch, so that amount has to be subtracted, which gives a grand total of 14 calories of energy expended.

6 Presumptions

The article also explores six "presumptions," or widely accepted beliefs that are neither proven nor disproven. They are:

Eating breakfast prevents obesity.

Actually, two studies showed no effect of eating vs. skipping breakfast.

Childhood is the time to learn to exercise and eat well.

While it certainly can't hurt, there's no rigorous evidence to support it.

Adding fruits and vegetables to the diet results in weight loss.

Adding more calories of any type without making any other changes is likely to cause weight gain. Eating fruits and vegetables is healthful, however.

Yo-yo dieting increases your risk of death.

While some studies have shown a debatable link, none have actually proven a cause and effect.

Snacking contributes to weight gain and obesity.

There's no solid evidence to support this belief.

More parks and sidewalks means less obesity.

Again, the evidence just isn't there.

9 Facts

Finally, the authors offer nine facts about obesity and weight loss that are supported by evidence.

"The myths and presumptions about obesity that we have discussed are just a sampling of the numerous unsupported beliefs held by many people, including academics, regulators, and journalists, as well as the general public. Yet there are facts about obesity of which we may be reasonably certain -- facts that are useful today," Casazza says.

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