Sedentary Jobs Spread Worldwide
The US isn’t alone in becoming a nation of chair jockeys: Other countries are growing more sedentary, too, especially at work. University of North Carolina researchers told a recent Obesity Society meeting that workplace activity levels have fallen in the US, UK, China, Brazil and India—countries totaling 45% of the world’s population. Measures of physical activity typically focus on leisure time, but this study sought to also analyze energy expenditure on the job, calculated as metabolic-equivalent (MET)-hours per week. In the US, total weekly MET-hours fell from 235 to 160 from 1965 to 2009, led by a decline in occupational activity; UK numbers were similar, going from 216 in 1960 to 173 in 2005. China saw the biggest and fastest change, falling from 399 to 213 between 1991 and 2009. Researchers predicted that figure would continue to decline slightly, to 188 by 2030, as sedentary leisure time grows. Drops in activity were smaller in Brazil and India, but the study projected falling energy-expenditure levels in both countries between now and 2030.