Pennington Logo During the 1960s, more than one half of jobs probably included moderate physical activity in contrast to today’s less than 20 percent. This appears as a strong contributor to obesity. Investigators from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center assert that the decrease in workplace physical activity over the past fifty years has paved way for the obesity epidemic. It was suggested that changes in caloric intake cannot be wholly accounted for observed trends in weight gain increases among both men and women in the U.S.

As a part of the study, investigators inspected the trends in occupational physical activities over the past five decades. Then compared the way these trends have currently changed body weight in men and women from the U.S. In the year 2008, federal physical activity recommendations suggested 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity per week. But only one in every 20 Americans is reportedly meeting these guidelines.

“The causes of the obesity epidemic are a hotly debated issue, particularly in regard to the relative importance of diet and physical activity. Our data provides further support to the importance of including both diet and physical activity in discussions related to be both the causes and potential solutions of the on-going obesity epidemic,” said lead study Pennington Biomedical scientist Timothy Church, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D. and John S. McIlhenny Endowed Chair at Pennington Biomedical Research Center.

If men and women were meeting these recommendations, this would presumably make up for the decreased activity levels in the labor work force. All through the study, authors focused on occupation activity as it represents the largest segment of waking hours for adults. Since the past 40 years, the workforce has supposedly altered dramatically, with more women working today. Ever since 1970, the percentage of women in the workforce has apparently increased from 43 percent in 1970 to 60 percent in 2007. The study mentions that a major focus on public health interventions and research in the future should be directed towards increasing physical activity outside of the workplace.

The study was published in Public Library of Science (PLoS).