News / Health

Study: Obesity Surge Fueled by Sedentary Lifestyle

File - Obesity is on the rise in the U.S. and worldwide
File - Obesity is on the rise in the U.S. and worldwide

Related Articles

Study: Extreme Obesity Cuts 14 Years Off Life

Research shows those who are extremely overweight are at greater risk of dying early from heart disease, cancer, diabetes or a stroke

Super-sized sodas, cheap junk food and huge portions at restaurants might not be what’s really feeding the U.S. obesity epidemic.
 
Many Americans have stopped doing any sort of physical activity.
 
Using data from the Centers for Disease Control’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), researchers from Stanford University’s School of Medicine showed that while caloric intake appears not to have risen, inactivity has surged.
 
According to the CDC, NHANES is “a program of studies designed to assess the health and nutritional status of adults and children in the United States. The survey is unique in that it combines interviews and physical examinations.”
 
The data revealed that between 1988 and 2010, women who reported not engaging in physical activity rose from 19 percent to 52 percent. For men, the number bounced from 11 percent to 43 percent.
 
During that timeframe, obesity rates increased from 25 to 35 percent among women and from 20 to 35 percent among men.

Obesity has been linked to cancer, cardiovascular disease, as well as increased mortality.

“What struck us the most was just how dramatic the change in leisure-time physical activity was,” said Dr. Uri Ladabaum, associate professor of gastroenterology and lead author of the study in a statement. “Although we cannot draw conclusions about cause and effect from our study, our findings support the notion that exercise and physical activity are important determinants of the trends in obesity.”

That so many Americans engage in no physical activity could be because lives are busier and that sedentary activities such as using computers, tablets, smartphones as well playing video games is on the rise.
 
“This is a part of the equation that we have not looked at before,” said Dr. Gurkirpal Singh, a co-author of the study, which will appear in the August issue of The American Journal of Medicine.
 
The trend is likely to continue as young Americans are seeing less physical activity.
 
A CDC study earlier this year that utilized NHANES data showed that half of boys between 12 and 15 years old and one third of girls had adequate levels of cardiorespiratory fitness. The percentage of those children who had adequate levels of fitness plunged from 52.4 percent in 1999 to 42.2. percent in 2012.
 
The Stanford researchers are quick to point out that the study does not suggest that active people can eat what they want.

Singh says researchers want to emphasize how a lack of activity will affect health.
 
While the study defined “ideal” exercise as “more than 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise or more than 75 minutes a week of vigorous exercise,” Singh said any exercise is better than none.

“The biggest gains from physical activity occurs from zero to something,” he said. “That’s a sharp rise. The more you do the better, but the incremental advantage [of doing more] is nowhere close what is achieved from zero to something.”
 
He said people shouldn’t be discouraged by the ideal amounts and that small things like taking the stairs or walking a small distance can be beneficial.
 
There are two caveats to the research.
 
First, while the study shows a correlation between obesity and a sedentary lifestyle, it was observational and therefore can “not address the possible causal link between inactivity and weight gain.”
 
Also, since the data about activity and calorie intake are self-reported, “participants may have been tempted to under-report how much they ate.”
 
In an editorial published with the research, the journal’s managing editor, Pamela Powers Hannley, called the study “a clarion call.”

In a news release she called obesity a “complex, multifaceted problem linked to a variety of societal factors,” adding that just telling patients to work out won’t be enough.

“Communities, employers and local governments to enable healthy lifestyles by ensuring that there are safe spaces to exercise that are cheap or free,” she said.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Video Scientists Say We Need Softer Robots

Today’s robots are mostly hard, rigid machines, with sharp edges and forceful movements, but researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say they should be softer and therefore safer More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs