F as in FAT

Americans are getting bigger and bigger every year no thanks to our sedentary lifestyle. *image via Reuters*

As many of us know, America is getting fatter and fatter by the year. To give you an idea of how things have changed, more than two-thirds of states (38) have adult obesity rates above 25 percent and in 1991, no state had an obesity rate above 20 percent. Though Australia is the fattest country of the world with 26% of their population as obese, we’re only trailing behind by 1%. If this were college, we’d be at the bottom of the class.

Films like Super Size Me and Fast Food Nation have us believe that it is fast food that mainly contributes to this epidemic. However, we must not forget to note that America leads a very sedentary lifestyle. According to new research findings as part of the American Time Use Survey, Just 5 percent of Americans say they exercise vigorously, according to a new study that finds that most people are either sedentary or perform only light activities on a given day. These findings were based on data  collected between 2003 and 2008 to determine Americans’ 10 most common non-work activities.

They found that sedentary activities dominated people’s time, followed by moderate and then vigorous levels of activity:

  • The most frequently reported, non-work behavior was eating and drinking, at 95.6%.
  • Washing, dressing, and grooming oneself was reported by 78.9%.
  • Driving a truck, car, or motorcycle was reported by 71.4%.
  • Moderate physical activities such as food preparation were reported by 25.7%. In this group, 12.8% of men reported food preparation, compared with 37.6% of women.
  • Caring for one’s lawn and gardening were reported by 10.6%.
  • The most common vigorous activities reported were using cardiovascular exercise equipment (2.2%) and running (1.1%).

Though it is imperative that we, as Americans, stay healthy in order to wean off killers such as heart disease and diabetes, our sedentary lifestyle is very much disallowing our progress toward a healthier living. Now is a better time than ever to put down that fork and pick up our pace everywhere we go.

The research was published in the October 2010 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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