Exercise regime crucial to dieting

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People on a diet may lose weight in the short term by eating less - but will see the pounds pile back on unless they start exercising regularly, scientists are to warn at a conference.

Recent research has shown that more than half the British population is now overweight - with 18 per cent of women and 15 per cent of men classified as obese. Scientists have also confirmed that lack of physical fitness is the main contributor to ill health and early death in overweight people.

The findings are to be discussed at a conference entitled Physical Activity and Healthy Weight Management, being held tomorrow by the Association for the Study of Obesity and the Health Education Authority. Dr Ken Fox, of Exeter University, will tell the conference: "There is compelling evidence that exercise as part of a weight-loss routine is critical to long-term weight management. Physical activity is the key to a fitter, healthier and fat-free life. It's never too late to get started."