The “Spillover” Effect

Jamie Sukroo - 25 Jul 2019

The “Spillover” Effect

When I was living in Sydney a friend of mine who I hadn’t seen in a while turned up looking slim and healthy. I asked him what his secret was and he said – “Well it’s hard to pin down, as you never do one thing at a time!”.

I read a scientific study the other day that ties in with what my friend said, and can be used by all of us who want to be healthier and leaner:

The above study from the Journal of the American College of Nutrition tracked 6244 participants over the course of their life from age 18-22 to age 27-31. The scientists who carried out the study found a very strong correlation between those who recently took up exercise and a positive change in their eating habits (in terms of more fruit and vegetables consumed).

In other words there was strong scientific evidence that taking up a new form of exercise positively impacts ones eating habits. In economics this would be called a “Spillover Effect” (one nations activities impacting upon another nation).

Other examples of positive Spillover Effects I can think of are as follows:

1. Taking up recycling at home can make you more environmentally aware when it comes to purchasing goods and services.
2. Giving money to charity makes you more willing to volunteer to help others.
3. Drinking Clean Coffee can make you more inclined to eat healthily and look after yourself (-:

So my advice is simple here: If you are stuck in a rut and engaging in the same detrimental eating habits – take up a new form of exercise e.g.
Cricket, Tennis, Squash, Cycling, Bootcamp etc, and watch it impact your eating habits in a positive way. Your mindset will be shifted to that of a “healthy person”.

I’ve seen this myself when I took up Pilates recently. I found that I needed to start doing sit ups to keep up with the intense weekly sessions. I also drank less alcohol and ate a bit more healthier.

An example of a bad Spillover Effect is when you think you have exercised hard so you can get away with eating sweets and junk food as you’ve earned it!

As we’ve seen in a previous blog – this is false thinking as exercise doesn’t burn many calories beyond a certain set point, and certainly not enough to offset that highly calorific donut or bowl of ice-cream.

In summary – exercise is best as a method of improving your health but can also act as an indirect weight loss tool by positively impacting your eating habits (via the Spillover Effect).

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