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Is obesity caused by over-eating or lack of exercises?

Obesity is more likely to be caused by a lack of daily exercise than overeating according to some new scientific studies involving many obese persons.

Obesity is one of the characteristic ills of our modern societies. Who and what is to blame? Hectic lifestyle, sedentariness at work, watching too much TV, overeating, you name it.

Recently, though, a study demonstrated that sedentariness is the factor most likely accounting for the increase in cases of obesity, even more than overeating does. The conclusion was thus worded after having examined data gathered over the last 20 years.


The observations made by the researchers were as follows:

  • Less and less time was allocated for physical activity among Americans
  • It mostly concerned young women
  • Simultaneously, the mean body mass index (BMI) increased
  • All the while, calorie consumption remained stable

The researchers examined the trends in obesity, together with variables like waistline obesity, physical exercise and the consumption of calories.

keep fit

The results showed that 51.7 % of the female adults did not allocate a portion of leisure time to physical activity. This data was for 2012. Years back, in 1994, only 19.2 % of the female adult population reported not engaging in physical activities. Of these women who do not spend time for physical activities, black and Mexican-American women formed a great proportion of this group. As for their male counterparts, 43.5 % of them reported not doing physical exercise in 2014, as opposed to the 11.4 % in 1994.

When examining how BMI has changed over the years, it was observed that it increased by 0.37 % per year: the effect more pronounced for young women again. The mean waist size increased by 0.37 % per year for females and 0.27 % for males.

Calorie intake remained stable

All of these changes that have been noted occurred in spite of having no drastic increase in calorie intake. Rather, it was the variable ‘time for physical activity’ that was found to be associated with increases in BMI and waist circumference.

Professor Ladabaum, one of the authors of the study, stated that: “Our findings do not support the popular notion that the increase of obesity in the United States can be attributed primarily to sustained increase over time in the average daily caloric intake of Americans.”

The danger of lack of physical activity

Increased sedentariness is an undeniable aspect of our world nowadays. While the atmosphere at work is such that employees spend hours sitting at their desk, the hectic lifestyle almost does not allow one to find time to engage in physical activities to stay fit. Then, again, the priorities of each are different.

woman exercising

Lack of activity leading to obesity constitutes even greater evils, given that obesity is associated with other ills like cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, all of which are mostly lifestyles diseases. Many other studies have shown how sedentariness can bring in even more serious diseases like cancer.

All of these suggest that we need to take a break from our hectic, yet sedentary lifestyles, and find some time to practise physical activities. As the new study has shown, whether we eat much, too much or not, inactivity itself is enough to exert negative influences on our lives. Maybe, a solution would be to spend less time scrolling down Facebook news-feeds and just get out and go for a walk or run?!


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