In 1995 a research paper called ‘Obesity in Britain: Gluttony or Sloth?’ compared physical activity levels, caloric energy intakes and obesity trends over a period of decades leading up to the study. They found that while obesity steadily rose throughout this period and even doubled between 1980 and 1991 the dietary trends in calorie intakes did not correlate as closely with the rise in obesity. Some decades, in fact, recorded slight declines in energy intake. Instead, it was the gradual decrease in physical activity that more closely correlated with the trends in weight gain. This lead the researches to conclude that physical activity may be AT LEAST as important as diet, if not more, in the aetiology of obesity.
More recently, a US based study examined obesity, physical activity and caloric intake between 1988 and 2010 in a similar fashion. They too found rising obesity more closely correlated to decreasing physical activity levels than to growing caloric intakes, suggesting again that physical activity may be, in this regard, the dominating factor in the obesity epidemic.
This in no way suggests that diet is not important. Not only is diet a major factor to weight control but also to health and function as well, and most certainly is physical inactivity’s ‘partner in crime’ when it comes to obesity trends. The point being made here is simply that physical activity is continuing to decrease (often even more than energy consumptions increase) and this we should put our focus on. The national guidelines for physical activity are 150 minutes of moderate exercise throughout the week or even less if the exercise is ‘vigorous’. What type or style of activity seems to matter least in this topic of obesity as simply the act of being physically active itself.
I guess we should get moving!