Study of 700,000 People in 46 Countries Shows How Lazy America Is

Americans have more luxuries and more opportunities to lay back and do nothing than perhaps any other country in the world. Perhaps that’s why on a global scale, the U.S. is one of the laziest countries on Earth, according to a Stanford University study. [1]

The great Ron Swanson once said:

“The whole point of [America] is if you want to eat garbage, balloon up to 600 pounds and die of a heart attack at 43, you can! You are free to do so. To me, that’s beautiful.”

Sure, it’s a quote from a sitcom (“Parks and Recreation”), but it appears that an awful lot of Americans actually live this way.

Stanford researchers used step-counters installed in the smartphones of about 700,000 people in 46 countries to track their walking activity. The study was massive – 1,000 times bigger than any previous research into human movement, according to Scott Delp, a professor of bioengineering who co-led the research.

Read: Power Walking: One of the Best Complete Exercises Around

The findings, published in the journal Nature, show China is the least lazy of all nations. People living in Hong Kong, especially, are very active, with individuals walking an average of about 6,880 steps per day.

Indonesia was found to be the laziest country, with Indonesians only walking about 3,513 steps.

Americans averaged about 4,774 daily steps, which is pretty close to the worldwide average of 4,961.

Source: USA Today

But average number of steps didn’t always coincide with more obesity in the study. Obesity levels can be more accurately gauged by calculating “activity inequality” – the difference between most active and least active. The team found that in nations with higher rates of obesity, larger gaps existed between those who walked a lot and those who didn’t walk often at all.

Read: Man Drops an ASTONISHING 300 Pounds by Walking to Walmart

Researcher Tim Althoff said:

“For instance, Sweden had one of the smallest gaps between activity rich and activity poor… it also had one of the lowest rates of obesity.” [2]

Gender was found to be a significant factor in country-to-country activity inequality. The study found that men were more active than women, including in the U.S. That was not the case in every country, however. For example, men and women in Japan exercised a similar amount. [3]

Jure Leskovec, a computer scientist at Stanford and a co-author of the study, said:

“When activity inequality is greatest, women’s activity is reduced much more dramatically than men’s activity, and thus the negative connections to obesity can affect women more greatly.”

The scientists hope their findings will contribute to public health campaigns aimed at reducing obesity and support policies designed to make cities more “walkable.”

Sources:

[1] USA Today

[2] National Post

[3] HealthDay


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Could Yellow Fever be the U.S.’s Next Zika?

The yellow fever outbreak currently sweeping the jungles of Brazil could be the next Zika virus in the United States, health officials say. The Latin American country has seen an increase in the disease over the past few weeks in some of its rural areas. [1]

Health officials with the Pan American Health Organization have confirmed 371 cases of yellow fever, including 241 deaths. The group is investigating hundreds of other potential cases.

In a recently-published letter found in the New England Journal of MedicineAnthony Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and colleague Catharine Paules, M.D., say that number of cases is unusual in the course of a year.

The fear is that yellow fever could spread to Brazilian cities for the first time in decades because the areas currently affected by the outbreak are so close to urban areas, including Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. [2]

Like the Zika virus, yellow fever is spread through the bite of the Aedes aegypti mosquito. History has shown that Zika, dengue, yellow fever, and other mosquito-borne illnesses can morph into full-blown epidemics through populations lacking preexisting immunity, which describes the United States.

It was reported last week that Rio de Janeiro state intends to vaccinate its entire population against yellow fever. These diseases could easily spread beyond Brazil via global travel, Fauci and Paules write. [2] [3]

Read: Zika Virus is “Scarier than the CDC Initially Thought”

“In an era of frequent international travel, any marked increase in domestic cases in Brazil raises the possibility of travel related cases and local transmission in regions where yellow fever is not endemic.” [2]

Fortunately, the authors write, there is currently no evidence that human-to-human transmission has occurred through Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in urban areas of Brazil.

The two admit it’s “highly unlikely” the continental U.S. will have to contend with a yellow fever outbreak, but “it is possible that travel-related cases of yellow fever could occur, with brief periods of local transmission in warmer regions such as the Gulf Coast states, where Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are prevalent.”

U.S. territories – including Puerto Rico, which was affected by the Zika outbreak last year – could also be at risk.

Fauci and Paules say doctors in the U.S. should be vigilant in asking patients for recent travel history, and be suspicious of yellow fever if the outbreak spreads to urban areas of Brazil.

“As with all potentially reemerging infectious diseases, public health awareness and preparedness are essential to prevent a resurgence of this historical threat.”

The authors of the letter say yellow fever would be difficult for doctors in the U.S. to identify, because they’ve never had to contend with the virus before. Yellow fever is typically suspected based on clinical presentation and confirmed later, as definitive diagnosis requires testing available only in specialized laboratories.

Around this time last year, an outbreak of yellow fever in Angola had World Health Organization officials concerned that the disease could spread well beyond the country’s borders, but it was fortunately contained.

Sources:

[1] CBS News

[2] New England Journal of Medicine

[3] New York Daily News


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