Scientists at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, La, found that a decrease in workplace physical activity over the past 50 years is a significant contributor to the US obesity epidemic. 

Changes in caloric intake can’t account for observed trends in weight gain increases for men and women, the study says. In the 1960s, more than one half of jobs included moderate physical activity in contrast to today’s jobs, for which reportedly less than 20% require a similar level of physical activity.


“Yesterday’s jobs have been replaced by sitting or sedentary activity. In the last 50 years, we estimate that daily occupation-related energy expenditure has decreased by more than 100 calories per day, and this reduction accounts for a significant portion of the increase in mean US body weights for women and men,” said lead study Pennington Biomedical scientist Timothy Church, MD, MPH, PhD.

The study examined trends in occupational physical activities, comparing them to concurrent changes in body weight in men and women.

In 2008, federal physical activity recommendations suggested 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity per week. However, only one in 20 Americans is meeting the guidelines.

The study, Trends Over 5 Decades in U.S. Occupation-Related Physical Activity and their Associations with Obesity, was published by the Public Library of Science

[Source: Pennington Biomedical]