(WTNH)  In any discussion about the best way to lose weight — and let’s face it, it’s something that’s ALWAYS being discussed — the classic paradigm is diet vs. exercise.  Calories vs. crunches.  Kale vs. CrossFit.  You get the idea.

The latest research on the never-ending debate came out this week, and it means all of you who say, “I can eat whatever I want because I go the gym” might have to recalibrate your weight control/weight loss program.  Researchers writing in the British Journal of Sports Medicine say it’s not lack of exercise, but high calorie diets that lead to obesity: “In the past 30 years, as obesity has rocketed, there has been little change in physical activity in the Western population. This places the blame for our expanding waist lines directly on the type and amount of calories consumed.”

And they’re not talking about fat.  Sugar and carbs (the same thing, really) are the culprits in the British research, not just because of the number of calories they contain, but the kinds of calories.  The sugar calories from a can of soda are much more harmful, according to the study, than the same number of calories from fat or protein.  And here’s the thing for all you condescending non-obese types: a lousy, sugary diet leads to increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions even if you’re in the normal weight range for your age and body type.

So we’re all clear on this, right?  Once and for all?  It’s not the exercise, it’s the calories.  Or as commenters were putting it when the study came out, you can’t outrun a bad diet.  That settles it!

But, as Columbo used to say, wait, there IS one more thing. I should mention that another study came out last summer, completely contradicting the British research findings that there’s been “little change in physical activity” for the past 30 years.  It blamed inactivity as the primary cause of the obesity epidemic.

This is the way it goes in obesity research.  So what’s a person with weight control issues to do?  Heck if I know.  Try to exercise some, maybe.  Lay off the fries.  Wait for the next definitive weight loss study to come out.