ESSA releases position statement on the role of physical activity in the management of obesity in adults

15 September 2021

Today Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) announces the launch of our latest position statement on physical activity in the management of obesity in adults, published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport (JSAMS).

Obesity is defined as excessive body fat that increases your risk of other health problems. A person with a body mass index (BMI) above 30 is considered as having obesity. It’s estimated that 1 in 3 (31%) of Australians aged 18 and over have obesity.

As well as affecting quality of life, obesity is a major risk factor for chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, back pain and some cancers. As the level of excess weight increases, so does the risk of developing these conditions.

This latest ESSA position statement, developed by a group of Australian researchers and clinicians, examines the evidence for physical activity in weight and adiposity (obesity) loss, prevention of weight and adiposity gain, and in weight regain in adults, and provides guidance on implications for exercise practitioners.

“Exercise practitioners see many clients with overweight or obesity, either as the chief complaint or a comorbidity. Yet, there are lot of misconceptions and misinformation about physical activity and obesity,” explains Associate Professor Nathan Johnson, lead author on this position statement based at the Faculty of Medicine and Health, and the Boden Collaboration for Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise and Eating Disorders, University of Sydney.

“This statement is important because it supports best evidence-based practice to effectively help adults with weight management problems.”

The position statement deals with the key aspects of exercise in weight and adiposity loss but also addresses the prevention of initial weight gain and the maintenance of weight loss.

“A distinctive feature of these recommendations is the recognition that improving health in people with overweight or obesity can be achieved by addressing the different elements of overweight and obesity that go beyond a focus on total weight loss,” adds Professor Tim Gill, the senior author on this position statement who is also based at the Boden Collaboration for Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise and Eating Disorders, University of Sydney.

During consultations for weight management, exercise practitioners, such as Accredited Exercise Physiologists, should advise that metabolic and cardiovascular health benefits can be achieved with physical activity at any weight, and irrespective of weight change.

Click here to access the article “Physical activity in the management of obesity in adults: A position statement from Exercise and Sport Science Australia”.

To find an Accredited Exercise Physiologist near you, visit ESSA’s online directory.