Americans spent more than $2.4 billion on diet programs and another $14 billion on weight loss supplements last year yet are more obese now than ever before, leaving the ‘BMI challenged’ despondent and defeated. Many believe that the super sizing of America’s diet is the culprit and point to a generation of slovenly, lazy over eaters that are placing this nation’s overall health at risk. A new study out of Stanford shows that American's diets have remained unchanged over the past decades and that the rise in obesity has been caused by changing activity levels.
The study, published in the American Journal of Medicine, documents a precipitous decline in physical activity over the past decades and an increase in BMI (Body Mass Index) levels set against a caloric intake that has remained virtually unchanged.
Wait. Americans are consuming the same amount of calories as twenty years ago but are still becoming more obese? Why? The answer is as straightforward as it is alarming.
American women reporting no physical activity in their daily lives (according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey –NHANES) leapt from 19.1% in 1994 to 51.7% in 2010. Men did not far much better increasing from a baseline of 11.4% to 43.5% in the same time period. The most dramatic increase in BMI was found among women aged 18-39.
Alarmingly the increase in abdominal obesity (a greater indicator of mortality risk than BMI) averaged an increase .37% and .27% annually over the study period for women and men respectfully.
The study authors Uri Ladabaum, Ajitha Mannalithara, Parvathi Myer and Gurkipai Singh stressed that none of these dramatic increases could be attributed to dietary changes in America and that the dramatic drop in physical activity levels was the single largest factor in the increase in obesity levels.
“We have experienced a fundamental shift since the 1980’s with the advent of computers and increased sedentary leisure activities (e.g. television, gaming). Simultaneously we have cut funding in our schools for sports and exercise classes, closed state and local parks, and changed the workplace into a totally sedentary environment. The increasingly poor health of Americans is not due to a lack of will power or resolve it’s fault lies squarely on a fundamental shift in our lifestyles towards sedentary environments and shifts in policy. These must be changed quickly to lessen the grip that obesity related diseases now holds over our nation’s health,” stated Steve Bordley, CEO of TrekDesk Treadmill Desk.
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