Not enough walking and too much sitting may be to blame for the obesity epidemic.
We consume fewer calories yet still gain weight, but it’s less about our intake and more about how much energy we’re burning.
Research shows that we’re taking in 500 fewer calories a day than we did 40 years ago yet we’re actually fatter. It appears that the reduction in calories has not matched our reduction in physical activity. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that physical inactivity is a bigger risk factor in mortality than obesity.‘Walking deficiency condition’ and ‘hyper-sitting syndrome’ are the new causes of obesity. Simply put, it’s not just the amount and types of food we consume but also our increasingly sedentary lifestyles that are making us fat.More of us are living and working in ‘obesogenic environments’, environments (usually urban) that encourage people to eat unhealthily and not do enough exercise. Fewer people are employed in manual work, and more people spend their days sitting at desks, not even getting up to go for lunch. Labour-saving devices around the home, online shopping, and box set bingeing all compound the problem. As a result we need to eat even less or exercise more.
Obesity is a consequence of the abundance and convenience of modern life as well as the human body’s propensity to store fat. — Professor Susan Jebb, University of Oxford
Lifestyle changes don’t need to be drastic — get off the bus a stop earlier, take a walk at lunchtime, use the stairs rather than the elevator. In the office reduce the amount of time spent sitting. Walk to speak to colleagues rather than emailing them, and then talk to them while standing — not only is this healthier, but it will also make the meeting shorter!
Not sold on the idea that a desk job could be harming you? Deskbound, a book by physical therapist Kelly Starrett could change that. While Starrett is best known for his work inside the gym, he’s discovered that many issues underlying injury and decreased performance are related to how people carry themselves in everyday life. His book offers a scathing critique of our modern environment, which he says encourages poor physical habits, as well as strategies to survive in it.