The obesity epidemic is not all about huge portions and processed foods — it's a no-brainer that a more sedentary lifestyle is part of the equation. And since most of us spend a good portion of the work day sitting in a chair, a new study published in the journal PLoS One has set about to quantify exactly how much those desk jobs are really hurting us. Turns out a lot; the number of desk-bound or light-activity jobs has increased in the last 50 years from 50 percent to 80 percent, leading to a loss of 140 to 160 calories burned a day.
These numbers are in line with the climbing obesity rate (currently one in three Americans), and while the results aren't surprising, it does show just how much the shift from more active jobs like those in farming and manufacturing has affected our national waistline. And having an understanding of how the eight or so hours in the day we spend sitting in a chair has led to a collective decrease in activity will help us get to the bottom of the reasons why our society continues to gain weight. Also, researchers want to use the findings as a way to encourage employers to offer incentives like discounted gym memberships or public transit fares (or even those hilarious-looking yet probably effective walking desk stations).
From taking walks at lunch (or the stairs instead of the elevator), office workers still have some fitness tricks up their sleeves. But does this study show that employers need to offer ways for workers to be more active, or should fitness be a personal responsibility?