New study reveals how changes in lifestyle are contributing to dramatic rise in obesity

September 1, 2015, Royal Holloway, University of London
Credit: Peter Häger/Public Domain

New research from Royal Holloway, University of London has found that changes in lifestyle over the past 30 years have led to a sharp reduction in the strenuousness of daily life, which researchers say may explain why there has been a dramatic rise in obesity.

The study, carried out by Dr Melanie Luhrmann from the Department of Economics along with Professor Rachel Griffith and Dr Rodrigo Lluberas, revealed that while have almost trebled, surprisingly, our actual calorie intake has fallen by around 20 per cent compared to 30 years ago.

The researchers found our current lifestyle changes mean in spite of the smaller number of we put on weight as our lives have become more sedentary.

The study found that both men and women are more likely to work in less strenuous occupations than in the past. Work is important because it accounts for a large share of people's time but the academics also noted that how people spend time outside of work has also changed. For example, both men and women spend more time watching TV and more time commuting by public transport or car which are much less strenuous than walking or cycling.

The research also found a link between work and calories with many workers eating out more and purchasing less calories for home consumption. This suggests that the success of aiming to reverse the rise in by changing people's food purchasing behaviour may depend on taking interactions between work and calories into account.

Dr Melanie Luhrmann says: "Our research shows that decisions over work and food demand are related. First of all, because individuals that work substitute more towards market-produced food, for example, towards processed foods and eating out. Secondly, weight gain arises from a caloric imbalance, meaning if more energy is consumed than expended. Hence, both calories and physical activity are important in explaining the rise in obesity. People have adjusted their calories downwards, but not enough to make up for the sizable decline in . Part of this decline comes from reduced activity at work. So we should take into account the link between work and calories when evaluating policy interventions aimed at reducing obesity."

Explore further: Researchers find fructose contributes to weight gain, physical inactivity, and body fat

Related Stories

Researchers find fructose contributes to weight gain, physical inactivity, and body fat

June 1, 2015
In the last 40 years, fructose, a simple carbohydrate derived from fruit and vegetables, has been on the increase in American diets. Because of the addition of high-fructose corn syrup to many soft drinks and processed baked ...

Epidemic of obesity and overweight linked to increased food energy supply

June 30, 2015
Obesity - a global health problem - is increasing in many countries in step with increases in the food energy supply, according to a study published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization today.

African-American women must eat less or exercise more to lose as much weight as caucasians

December 19, 2013
African-American women may need to eat fewer calories or burn more than their Caucasian counterparts to lose a comparable amount of weight, according to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in a ...

Shift focus from calorie counting to nutritional value for heart health, say experts

August 26, 2015
It's time to stop counting the calories, and instead start promoting the nutritional value of foods if we are to rapidly cut illness and death from cardiovascular disease and curb the rising tide of obesity, say experts in ...

Do mini-packaged snacks help you eat less junk?

June 1, 2015
In recent years countless food manufacturers have been "sub-packaging" their foods into smaller portions in an apparent effort to curb folks from overindulging. You can usually find 100 kcal multi-packs of chips, pretzels, ...

Would you eat that doughnut if you knew you had to walk two miles to burn it off?

October 14, 2014
A new study at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will examine whether adding the amount of walking it takes to burn off the calories in food items will lead consumers to make healthier choices.

Recommended for you

Obesity intervention needed before pregnancy

December 6, 2018
New research from the University of Adelaide's Robinson Research Institute supports the need for dietary and lifestyle interventions before overweight and obese women become pregnant.

Gene that lets you eat as much as you want holds promise against obesity

December 4, 2018
It sounds too good to be true, but a novel approach that might allow you to eat as much food as you want without gaining weight could be a reality in the near future.

High childhood BMI linked to obesity at age 24 in women

December 3, 2018
Girls who gain weight more rapidly between the ages of 5 and 15 are more likely to be obese at age 24, according to researchers.

Mothers more influential than fathers when it comes to children's weight

November 21, 2018
Overweight and obesity often continue for generations in families. The links can be genetic, but are also related to family relationships and lifestyle habits.

Race plays role in regaining weight after gastric bypass surgery

November 15, 2018
African Americans and Hispanic Americans who have undergone Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) are at greater risk to regain weight as compared to Caucasians. To date, no study has addressed the effect of race on weight regain ...

Simple tips can lead to better food choices

November 13, 2018
A few easily learned tips on eating and food choice can increase amount of healthy food choices between 5 percent and 11 percent, a new Yale University study has found.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.