According to a new study out of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana, our jobs are contributing to rising obesity rates. According to the study, “Over the last 50 years in the U.S. we estimate that daily occupation-related energy expenditure has decreased by more than 100 calories, and this reduction in energy expenditure accounts for a significant portion of the increase in mean U.S. body weights for women and men.”
But Canadian obesity researcher Dr. Yoni Freedhoff has a different take. Freedhoff explained in a recent blog post that while we may be burning 100 fewer calories per day, we’ve also been ingesting an extra 500 each day since 1970. So we can blame rising obesity on 17 percent decreased activity and 83 percent on increased food intake.
And I’ve got a further two cents to through in.
Work is indeed making us fat, but it’s the work that’s making us eat poor diets that are high in calories. Since 1955 the percentage of food budget Americans spend on eating out has risen from 25 percent to 49 percent; I expect the numbers are lower in Canada, but there was still a rise. There is no shortage of 24-hour McDonalds around now.
During that same time, women have entered the workforce in droves, everyone is working longer hours, we’re tethered to our jobs via anywhere email and smart phones, and no one feels they have time to shop for healthy meals and prepare them.
The restaurant industry exploded and we ended up needing an escape from the endless toil of work by eating for pleasure instead of fueling our bodies. By the advent of fast food, ordering pizza, and inexpensive restaurant chains we can get someone else to cook it, serve it, and clean up afterwards — just what the overworked modern eater desires.
And these foods pack a high-calorie wallop.
The only solution is to stop living for work and step back and reevaluate your life. Start planning about how you can realistically make the grocery store the number one source of your caloric intake, because eating out is what makes North Americans overweight.