Is the workplace contributing to higher obesity rates?

A new study finds that rising obesity rates in the United States may be associated with less physical activity in the workplace. The study used statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to evaluate energy expenditure in private industry from the early 1960s to the present.

The research revealed that almost 50 percent of private industry jobs in the 1960s required at least moderate intensity physical activity. Current statistics show that less than 20 percent require the same intensity.

In this 50 year period, the average daily energy expenditure due to work related physical activity has declined by more than 100 calories in both women and men, the researchers write.

Lead study author and exercise researcher at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Dr. Timothy S. Church, tells the New York Times:

“If we’re going to try to get to the root of what’s causing the obesity epidemic, work-related physical activity needs to be in the discussion. There are a lot of people who say it’s all about food. But the work environment has changed so much we have to rethink how we’re going to attack this problem.”

This study is published in the journal PLoS one.

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