Eating right and exercising are the keys to weight loss, but an expertly drawn conclusion declares that one is more important than the other. It turns out, overeating sugar and carbohydrates is what’s causing obesity, not a sedentary lifestyle, according to the researchers’ findings published in the Journal of Sports Medicine. In fact, high-calorie diets accumulate more health problems than physical inactivity, alcohol, and smoking combined.

More than one-third of the United States is obese, which also puts those 78.6 million adults at risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The research team crunched the numbers and found for every 150 extra calories you consume from sugar, your diabetes risk increases by 11 times. And just cutting extra carbohydrates from your diet is “the single most effective intervention for reducing all features of metabolic syndrome.”

Metabolic syndrome increases dangerous risk factors that when combined multiply a person’s risk for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke, according to the American Heart Association. Nutrition, more than any other lifestyle factor, is what controls the future of an individual’s health, the editorial goes on to say. An old English proverb has been warning the world for centuries: Don't dig your grave with your own knife and fork.

The food industry and its “bent scientists” are responsible for the public health confusion, which is “chillingly similar to those of Big Tobacco.” Just like Big Tobacco did decades ago, the food industry also has celebrities and athletes posing with their products in movies, commercials, and magazine and billboard advertisements.

“Celebrity endorsements of sugary drinks and the association of junk food and sport must end,” the authors said in the corresponding editorial. “The 'health halo' legitimization of nutritionally deficient products is misleading and unscientific.”

Singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, for example, is one of the biggest brand ambassadors of Diet Coke. She signed with the Coca-Cola Company two years ago, and according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, every time the celebrity poses with a diet Coke, the impression she makes on her fans turns her into a threat to public health.

Gyms and health clubs will also need to step up and remove the sale of sugary drinks and other unhealthy products from their facilities, researchers add, in order to stay loyal to their goal of helping people achieve healthier lifestyles. Athletes are better off adopting a high-fat, low-carb diet before bouts of intense exercise instead of the carbo-loading of big pasta dishes the night before a big physically exhausting event.

“It's time to wind back the harms caused by the junk food industry's public relations machinery,” the authors wrote. “Let's bust the myth of physical inactivity and obesity. You can't outrun a bad diet.”

Source: Malhotra A, Noakes T, and Phinney S. It is time to bust the myth of physical inactivity and obesity: you cannot out run a bad diet. Journal of Sports Medicine. 2015.