A new study recently found that the obesity rate in America has nothing to do with the amount of calories that we consume, but rather the lack of exercise that many people are now getting. While this might be true, an even bigger adversary of the American diet is technology.
According to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, researchers from Stanford University found that from 1994 to 2010, the number of physically inactive American women grew from 19.1 to 51.7 percent. As for the men, their numbers went from 11.4 percent in 1994 to 43.5 percent in 2010.
"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 in a press release. The findings were published in the American Journal of Medicine.
And while the collective body mass index has increased, the culprit might not be food. It could actually be that people have exercised less and less, and the years have gone by — this is where technology has befallen us.
"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," Ladabaum said.
It would make sense, too. As technology has made our lives easier, it has also led us to become increasingly sedentary. According to Dr. Azadeh Aalai, a professor of psychology at Montgomery College in Maryland and an adjunct at George Washington University, “ we [have] become more wired as a culture, not only are we opening ourselves up to newer methods of advertising and marketing bombardment, but we are also becoming more prone to multitasking, which means eating on the run and doing whatever we can to save time,” she wrote in Psychology Today.
In 2012, researchers at the Milken Institute in California found that there was a dramatic rise in obesity in 27 countries between 1988 and 2009, HealthDay reported. And the United States is one of those countries.
Technology is here to stay, so the only viable recommendation would be that people improve their dietary habits and exercise more. Pamela Powers Hannley, managing editor of the American Journal of Medicine writes in op-ed piece that we should take control of our health and health care costs: "From encouraging communities to provide safe places for physical activity to ensuring ample supply of healthy food to empowering Americans to take control of their health, we must launch a concerted comprehensive effort to control obesity."