Rise in Obesity Blamed on Less Exercise, Not Food

Rise in Obesity Blamed on Less Exercise, Not Food

Keeping a trim figure means balancing both healthy eating habits and consistent exercise. While many believe abs are made in the kitchen, new research has found that calories are not to blame for the increasing rate of obesity in the U.S., but rather a lack of exercise is to blame.

Researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine found that exercise during leisure time decreased for men and women significantly between the years 1994 and 2010. Furthermore, they linked this decrease to the increase of obesity rates amongst Americans.

Published in the American Journal of Medicine, the study includes data from a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey that showed the number of women who reported low to no physical activity during leisure time rose from 19.1 percent in 1994 to 51.7 percent in 2010. Similarly, 11.4 percent of men reported low to no physical activity in 1994 and that number rose to 43.5 percent in 2010.

50 percent of working people who participated in the study reported no physical activity.

“These changes have occurred in the context of substantial increases in the proportion of adults reporting no leisure-time physical activity, but in the absence of any significant population-level changes in average daily caloric intake,” said lead investigator Uri Ladabaum, MD, MS, Associate Professor of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine in a press release. “At the population level, we found a significant association between the level of leisure-time physical activity, but not daily caloric intake, and the increases in both BMI and waist circumference.”

Researchers did not look at the specifics of diet such as carbohydrate and protein intake, but they did find that Body Mass Index (BMI) rose across all age groups, especially women ages 18 to 39.

Not only did they take into account BMI, they also looked at abdominal obesity, which is said to be a better way to determine health. BMI is found by first converting your height into inches. You will then multiply your weight in pounds by 703, divides by your height in inches squared.

Those with a BMI ranging from 18.5-24.9 are considered to be at a normal weight status. Those ranging from 25-29.9 are considered to be overweight, and 30 plus are categorized as obese. Those under 18.5 are underweight.

However, BMI readings are not that accurate defining healthy weight. It does not take into considering bone mass or muscle mass. Athletes tend to have high muscle mass and this could make them overweight according to their BMI reading, even if they are lean and at a healthy weight for their height and age.

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that you get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity, and strength train at least twice a week.

During your leisure time, enjoy summer activates that will get you outdoors. Swimming burns about 400 calories an hour for a 150-pound woman and about 496 calories in a 180-pound man. Get a group of family or friends together and play a game of softball that will burn 342 calories an hour in a 150-pound woman and 410 calories in a 180-pound man. Ladies can pair up and play tennis to burn 413 calories in an hour.

For those who have busy schedules working, you can take a brisk walk at night to burn about 350 calories for a 150-pound woman, or 421 calories for a 180-pound man.  If you are a morning person than wake up a little earlier before work for a 30-minute yoga session that can burn about 176 calories for a 150-pound woman and 200 calories for a 180-pound man.

Aim to be overall more active to improve your health and ward off unwanted weight. Yard work and cleaning the house does count of physical activity. Add squats in between chores and finish off with sit-ups and push-ups before hitting the shower.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) more than one third of American adults are obese and approximately 12.5 million children ages two through 19-years-old are obese.