Study of 700,000 People in 46 Countries Shows How Lazy America Is

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By Julie Fidler | Natural Society

Americans have more luxuries and more opportunities to lay back and do nothing than perhaps any other country in the world. Perhaps that’s why on a global scale, the U.S. is one of the laziest countries on Earth, according to a Stanford University study. [1]

The great Ron Swanson once said:

“The whole point of [America] is if you want to eat garbage, balloon up to 600 pounds and die of a heart attack at 43, you can! You are free to do so. To me, that’s beautiful.”

Sure, it’s a quote from a sitcom (“Parks and Recreation”), but it appears that an awful lot of Americans actually live this way.

Stanford researchers used step-counters installed in the smartphones of about 700,000 people in 46 countries to track their walking activity. The study was massive – 1,000 times bigger than any previous research into human movement, according to Scott Delp, a professor of bioengineering who co-led the research.

The findings, published in the journal Nature, show China is the least lazy of all nations. People living in Hong Kong, especially, are very active, with individuals walking an average of about 6,880 steps per day.

Indonesia was found to be the laziest country, with Indonesians only walking about 3,513 steps.

Americans averaged about 4,774 daily steps, which is pretty close to the worldwide average of 4,961.


Source: USA Today

But average number of steps didn’t always coincide with more obesity in the study. Obesity levels can be more accurately gauged by calculating “activity inequality” – the difference between most active and least active. The team found that in nations with higher rates of obesity, larger gaps existed between those who walked a lot and those who didn’t walk often at all.

 

Researcher Tim Althoff said:

“For instance, Sweden had one of the smallest gaps between activity rich and activity poor… it also had one of the lowest rates of obesity.” [2]

Gender was found to be a significant factor in country-to-country activity inequality. The study found that men were more active than women, including in the U.S. That was not the case in every country, however. For example, men and women in Japan exercised a similar amount. [3]

Jure Leskovec, a computer scientist at Stanford and a co-author of the study, said:

“When activity inequality is greatest, women’s activity is reduced much more dramatically than men’s activity, and thus the negative connections to obesity can affect women more greatly.”

The scientists hope their findings will contribute to public health campaigns aimed at reducing obesity and support policies designed to make cities more “walkable.”

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  1. Pete@upbeatpete.com' Pete says:

    Since when is walking THE indicator for laziness? That presumption makes the entire article and possibly the entire project worthless.

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