Originally Published: August 8, 2014 6 a.m.
The complex matrix that is health care coverage in the U.S. is, to many, a question of what can, should, can't or shouldn't the government do about it.
A study this summer shows that we should ask not what our country can do for our bodies and instead ask ourselves.
Last month's study published in The American Journal of Medicine reveals in the past 20 years a sharp decrease in physical exercise and an increase in average body mass index. And stop before you blame poor eating habits. The same study concludes that, over the same period, caloric intake has remained steady.
Caloric intake hasn't changed. Physical activity among Americans has declined sharply. U.S. obesity rates are up.
This has zero to do with government or health care coverage, and has everything to do with personal responsibility when it comes to minimizing the need for medical attention for preventable issues.
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, this summer's study, showed researchers at Stanford University that the number of U.S. adult women who reported no physical activity jumped from 19 percent in 1994 to nearly 52 percent in 2010. For men, the number went up from 11 percent to almost 44 percent. Predictably, over that measured time period, body mass index increased across the board, with the most dramatic rise found among young women ages 18 to 39.
In short, we're guessing that a number of Americans are spending more time in front of a computer keyboard or TV screen ranting about government health care than taking care of their own health.
And there's even some good news. The study showed that total daily calorie, fat, carbs and protein consumption hasn't changed significantly over the last 20 years.
"While increased caloric intake is often blamed for rising rates of obesity, no association between these was found in this study," the report reads.
But, the obesity rate among Americans continues to rise.
Because, the data indicate, of a simple lack of physical activity.
More than one-third (35 percent) of U.S. adults are obese, which means about 30 or more pounds overweight. Combined with those who are merely overweight, the percentage skyrockets to nearly 70 percent, according to testimony before the Senate this past June. Excess weight and obesity are major contributors to chronic diseases, and the medical costs of obesity reached a staggering $147 billion in 2008. The estimated annual medical costs of obese persons are nearly $1,500 higher than for those of normal weight.
Add now, thanks to the Stanford study last month, we can see a direct connection. A lack of exercise.
This has nothing to do with calls for government programs or political point-scoring during election years.
This has everything to do with getting off our chairs.