Factors Contributing to Obesity:
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.
All links were valid at the time of publication. Changes to web sites not maintained by the office of the Texas Comptroller may not be reflected in the links below.
- 45 Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future, 2010 by Jeffrey Levi, Serena Vinter, Rebecca St. Laurent and Laure M. Segal (Washington, D.C., June 2010), pp. 101-105, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Physical Activity Fundamental to Preventing Disease (Washington, D.C., June 20, 2002), pp. 2, 4 and 8 (Last visited January 18, 2011.)
- 46 Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies are Failing in America, 2009, p. 24; U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?” (last visited January 18, 2011) and Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future, 2010, pp. 18 and 105.
- 47 Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, “Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year Olds,”; Office of the First Lady of the United States, “Let’s Move: America’s Move to Raise a Healthier Generation of Kids,”; and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance - United States 2009,” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report Surveillance Summaries (June 4, 2010), p. 122, (Last visited January 18, 2011.)