It isn’t the super-sized combo that is leading the exponential growth in obesity. Granted, it isn’t helping when people knock out an extra-large pizza in one sitting. The main cause? We are not exercising as a people.

A new study out from Stanford published in The American Journal of Medicine took a look at research over the past twenty years. The main takeaway? Leisure-time exercise has plummeted. I guess not enough people are seeing the fitness memes. Bro, do you even lift? Nope, but I’m an expert in this recliner.

The research honed in on young women over the past twenty years are found a stark increase in BMI and waist-size as leisure time exercise dropped. In 2010, over half of adult women reported no exercise time. That is nearly triple from 1994, when less than 20% reported the same.

Men, who probably lied during this self-reporting, clocked in at 40%. It still represents a four-fold increase over 1994. I guess those fitness apps just drain your iPhone’s battery versus burning calories.

It is a stark reversal on the whole diet is your friend mantra. It still is, but you have to remove yourself from the couch and actually sweat a bit. The study found no real change in the composition of diets of the past twenty years. Six-packs may be made in the kitchen, but the ab exercises are needed for the muscles to actually be there.

Lead author, Dr. Uri Ladabaum spoke on the caloric similarities. “At the population level, we found a significant association between the level of leisure-time physical activity, but not daily caloric intake, and the increases in both BMI and waist circumference.”

Overeating is the popular rationale for the obesity epidemic. This research turns that theory on its head and points to the collapse in exercise. “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 research also points out to the troubling trend among younger people and racial/ethnic disparities. The key takeaway? Get up and move around during the day. No one is saying you have to compete in the Ironman next year, but surely we can collectively skip whatever reality garbage is on for an hour and get moving.


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