spot theory of fat reduction

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The idea that specific exercises or diets can reduce the amount of fat in a particular area of the body without affecting the amount in other parts. For example, many people intuitively believe that if they have too much fat around the waist, abdominal exercises will reduce the fatty tissue in that area.

Several writers have capitalized on this idea and have promoted spot-reducing diets. One of the most famous is The Hip and Thigh Diet devised by Rosemary Conley. She claims that her very low fat diet (no food with more than 12 per cent fat) and exercise programme can help you lose weight preferentially from the hips and thighs. Although her programme is one of the most commercially successful ever devised (her book has sold more than 2 million copies worldwide), experts do not believe that this or any other diet and exercise programme can help you shed fat from some parts of your body but not others. The idea was disproved several years ago when researchers studied tennis players who played more than 6 hours a week. They expected the arm used to hold the racquet to be more muscular and less fatty than the other arm. Although the racquet-holding arm was more muscular, the amount of fat was the same in both arms.

Other studies confirm that it is not possible to manipulate diet or use exercise to lose fat from specific parts of the body. Fat is lost through the creation of an energy deficit which results in some fat being withdrawn from all the fat stores.

Subjects: Medicine and Health.

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