Obesity clues found in new Stanford research – activity inequality


“The U.S. is one of the world’s laziest countries — and it’s making us fat” – USA Today

“How step count data can predict obesity” — TIME

You may have seen the headlines this week on a new obesity study from Stanford using smartphones to track the activity levels of hundreds of thousands of people around the world. Researchers counted steps via smartphones and found a new public health risk: “activity inequality.” In countries with little obesity, people mostly walked a similar amount per day. But they found big gaps between people who walked a lot and those who walked very little, coinciding with unhealthy levels of obesity.

An estimated 5.3 million people die from causes associated with physical inactivity every year and these scientists want to know why obesity is a bigger problem in some countries than others.

The United States ranked fourth from the bottom in overall activity inequality, indicating a large gap between activity rich and activity poor. America is fifth from the bottom in the gender step gap and has high levels of obesity.

Published in Nature, the study used data captured from smartphones to analyze the habits of 717,000 men and women from 111 countries, whose steps were studied for an average of 95 days.

The researchers are sharing their findings on an activity inequality website so that their work may help improve public health campaigns against obesity and support policies to make cities more “walkable.”

While we’re happy to see research that confirms what we already know – there are great health benefits from activity – it’s disconcerting to see how far we must go to improve health.

What are you doing today to get in extra steps? On Thursday, July 20 at 12 p.m. ET, Holt Vaughan, Product Marketing for Apple, will join us for a live webcast and share his insights on how Apple Watch is changing the way people engage with wearable devices. We hope you can join us.

Where people walk the most

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