We're actually not sure which is the most depressing revelation of the study published in the New England Journal of Medicine: That sex for the typical American only burns 21 calories or that it only burns 21 calories because Americans only have sex for an average of six minutes an "encounter." Just how little is 21 calories? The simple act of being alive means that your brain burns around 11 calories per hour just to keep the lights on. In other words, literally not being brain dead for 2 hours in a row burns more calories than a tumble in the hay.
See Also: --Epic Mealtime Makes an Epic Mistake
The study was funded by the National Institute of Health and designed to take a look at common health myths related to obesity. Some have criticized the study because a number of the researchers have received grants or payments from companies like Coca-Cola, McDonalds and Jenny Craig. perhaps this Flight of the Conchords might accurately represent the average American sexual experience.
Apparently the misinformation about how many calorie are burned during sex stem from two problems. First, previous studies looked at fairly small populations. Secondly, it was generally assumed that people were knocking boots for 30 minutes a go not.... not six minutes.
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Some of the other depressing but useful highlights from the study:
- Losing weight slowly due to slightly reducing calories or slightly increasing exercise doesn't really translate into improved long term health changes.
- Neither physical education classes nor childhood health habits in general have much of an impact on long term weight loss.
- Snacking, in and of itself, doesn't necessarily result in weight gain.
This was a study that looked at other studies so it in and of itself doesn't prove anything, just addresses whether deficiencies in other studies might lead to an inaccurate representation of reality. It also doesn't invalidate that some of these things might still be good advice, just not to everyone. Take the snacking finding. Reducing or eliminating snacking by itself might not actually cause a long term loss of weight for any number of reasons. It's possible, for instance, that people simply start eating larger meals to compensate. The central problem is that people are still overeating and that's why they're not losing weight.