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Pennington Biomedical Research Center Study Suggests Decreases in U. S. Occupation Energy Levels a Significant Trigger of Obesity Epidemic
Date:5/25/2011

BATON ROUGE, La., May 25, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- In a new study conducted at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, scientists have found that the decrease in workplace physical activity over the past fifty years is a significant contributor to the obesity epidemic.  The study suggests that changes in caloric intake cannot solely account for observed trends in weight gain increases for men and women in the United States.

The study, entitled "Trends Over 5 Decades in U.S. Occupation-Related Physical Activity and their Associations with Obesity," was published Wednesday by the Public Library of Science (PLoS), an international peer-reviewed journal in science and medicine.  

In the 1960s, more than one half of jobs included moderate physical activity in contrast to today's less than 20 percent, according to the new study. "Yesterday's jobs have been replaced by sitting or sedentary activity.  In the last fifty 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 U.S. body weights for women and men," said lead study Pennington Biomedical scientist Timothy Church, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D. and John S. McIlhenny Endowed Chair at Pennington Biomedical Research Center.

"The causes of the obesity epidemic are a hotly debated issue, particularly in regard to the relative importance of diet and physical activity. Our data provides further support to the importance of including both diet and physical activity in discussions related to be both the causes and potential solutions of the on-going obesity epidemic," said Dr. Church.

The study examined the trends in occupational physical activities over the past five decades, comparing how the trends compare to concurrent changes in body weight in men and women in the United States.

In 2008, federal physical activity recommendations wer
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