Sedentation, active transportation, and obesity: report, relations, and results

It’s only fitting (albeit contrite) to begin evaluating health around the holidays. For the United States, It’s Thanksgiving week, and as most indulge, many consider their excess intake. Rather than evaluating relations between obesity and the holiday, let’s look at the bigger picture as to how obesity relates to a couple of factors in respect to a wider scope for quality of life: sedentation (the propensity to stay in place, a term and concept internationalcomparisons.org will begin to further develop as an indicator for quality of life) and active transportation (involving walking, bicycling, and/or public transit).

According to a  Rutgers University report, a markably inverse relationship is established between active transportation and quality of life. (However, the report was released in 2008, drawing on statistics from as early as 1997, and would be enhanced by some more recent figures from the OECD for obesity. Nonetheless, many of the OECD findings demonstrate the same premise, perhaps to an even greater degree.) At one end, the United States ranks last among the countries studied with one third of the population being obese. Correspondingly, the United States engages in active transportation only 12% of the time. From the opposite end of the U.S., Switzerland and the Netherlands weigh in with 8 and 8.1% obesity rates, respectively. Switzerland uses active transportation 61% of the time compared to 57% of the time for the Netherlands.

While the study admits that causality cannot be drawn between the two variables, the relation is obvious. The United States fails to incite activity as made evident in the report. Obesity is merely a symptom to a bigger issue: the sedentive lifestyle. Policy has the potential to impact lifestyle. We aim to illustrate this relationship by identifying several key indicators and the difference it makes in the countries studied at internationalcomparisons.org with a new page to be launched soon: early death by lifestyle.

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