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OBESITY vs. INACTIVITY - WHICH IS MORE IMPORTANT?

OBESITY vs. INACTIVITY - WHICH IS MORE IMPORTANT?

"We have been so worried about getting fat that we have forgotten to get fit.”

By Jim Baugh, Founder, PHIT America

For years, we have heard about the obesity crisis and how it is the ‘big killer’ and how it impacts health care costs. The amount of pressure placed on food companies, restaurants, schools, and parents to fix this problem by eating healthy has been constant and extreme. Forbes Logo

For the past three years, I personally have been frustrated knowing that while I am aware that eating properly is important, the U.S. has not been focusing on a bigger issue, which is physical inactivity. After reading the headline in the recent Forbes article (July 15, 2015), “It’s Not Obesity We Should Worry About, It’s Inactivity,” by Nick Morrison, it made my day.  

Please read the entire Forbes article here. Listed below are excerpts from the story by Forbes writer, Nick Morrison. Please keep in mind that Morrison comes from the U.K., but his research and opinions reflect a global issue:

“The world is in the grip of an obesity epidemic. And yet obesity is not the biggest problem. Evidence suggests that it is not the calories we consume that we should be really worried about, it’s our inactivity.”

“But, it is not obesity that should be a biggest concern, it is the lack of physical activity, and it is schools that are on the front line. Increasing urbanization, desk-bound jobs and a sedentary lifestyle all mean we are getting much less exercise than we used to, despite our gym memberships. And the problem starts in childhood.”

“This lack of exercise comes despite the Academy of Royal Medical Colleges describing physical activity as a ‘miracle cure’ able to treat or prevent a range of conditions, from cancer to dementia.”

Nick Morrison says so much more. I could not agree more with his prognosis. While I know nutrition is a major pathway to healthier living, nothing is better than physical activity. It is the ‘miracle drug.’  If we could get more people active and fit and if everyone could put as much energy and effort into increasing physical activity as they have into nutrition, the world would be healthier and we would dramatically reduce health care costs. Top Killers

After looking at this chart from the World Health Organization (WHO), it’s clear that physical inactivity is a bigger killer than obesity and is a major solution to five other ‘killers’ on the list.

And, The Lancet, the leading medical journal in the world, states physical inactivity kills more people than smoking. If we put as much time, energy, and funds into getting people more physically active as we have to educate people about smoking, the world would be a better place -- physically, mentally and socially.

Sport is a major way to get people active.  See what Nick Morrison says about this topic in his Forbes story:

“It is clear that the decline of sport in schools is a key factor in this epidemic of inactivity.”

This is really true in the U.S., as well.  Participation by youngsters in ten of 12 team sports have declined in participation in the past five years in the U.S. However, what is eye-opening is Morrison’s statement about the Olympics.

“And the hoped-for legacy of the 2012 London Olympics has not borne fruit, with falling sports participation.”

In the U.S., fandom of professional sports continues to rise. Sport is everywhere:  broadcast on TV, heard on talk radio, printed in newspapers, published in magazines, and posted on the Internet.  But, too many people are watching sports and not playing sports.  Everyone should work to get children into sports for their total health – body, mind and spirit.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that young people aged six to 17 take part in at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day, but a 2013 survey found that only just over a quarter met this target, and 15 percent did not manage an hour of activity on any of the preceding seven days.

In the U.K., only half of seven-year-olds are active for 60 minutes or more each day, while half are sedentary for 6.4 hours or more each day.  According to Morrison, the physical activity trend line is going in the wrong direction.

“Researchers found that children’s BMI had actually fallen from the levels recorded in 1998. This should have meant today’s children are fitter than the previous generation, but in fact their fitness – measured using shuttle runs – had fallen markedly.”

“Depressingly, the researchers concluded that the least fit 10-year-old in the class in 1998 would be among one of the five fittest in a class today.”

Worryingly, almost 25 percent think that playing a computer/video game with a friend counts as exercise, according to a survey from the Youth Sport Trust.

In Morrison’s story, he mentions that the general public in recent years has been more focused on counting calories rather than generating beads of perspiration.

“In fact, studies also show that we have been getting fatter while the amount of calories we consume has been on the decline.”

“The hysteria over obesity has concealed the real problem, which is that we are less active than ever before. We have been so worried about getting fat that we have forgotten to get fit.”