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Factors Contributing to Obesity:
Physical Inactivity

Physical activity is critical to America’s fight against obesity. Coronary heart disease, colon cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and osteoporosis all are related to sedentary lifestyles.45

Time carved out for physical activity is repaid with better health, less disease and longer life.

The formula is simple: to lose weight, your caloric intake must be lower than the number of calories you expend. Physical activity also plays a significant role in disease prevention, but 60 percent of Americans are not sufficiently active to achieve these health benefits.

Most children do not meet the recommended level of physical activity — at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day. More than half of U.S. adults do not meet the recommendations of at least 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity every week, and more than a quarter of adult Americans do no leisure-time physical activity at all. Texas was among the 10 states with the highest rates of physical inactivity in 2007 through 2009, with an estimated 28 percent of its adults sedentary.46

Many factors have contributed to the rise in physical inactivity. Better transportation and urbanization have decreased the time people must spend walking and biking. Longer commutes and work hours have cut into exercise time. Some neighborhoods lack parks and sidewalks or are unsafe, further limiting opportunities for exercise.

Television, telephones, computers and other electronic gadgets compete for free time available for physical activity, especially among children. On average, eight- to 18-year-olds spend about seven-and-a-half hours per day watching TV or movies, using a computer or cell phone or playing video games. In Texas, more than 36 percent of high school students (grades 9-12) watched television for three or more hours per day on school days, according to a 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance survey.47

Exercise takes time, and today’s society offers many competing pressures on individual free time. But time carved out for physical activity is repaid with better health, less disease and longer life.

End Notes

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