Obesity Myth: Obese Individuals Are Less ActiveTuesday, November 18, 2014
The second most common misconception about obesity, addressed in our article in Canadian Family Physician, is the idea that people living with overweight are any less active than people with “normal” weight:
“It is very common to hear that obese people are lazy and should get off the couch. This discriminatory bias against those with excess weight is not only widespread among the lay public but also among health professionals, even those in regular contact with patients with obesity.
Yet, the most recent data from the Canadian Health Measures Survey, a study of a nationally representative sample that used accelerometers to measure physical activity, suggest otherwise.
Based on objective measures, only 7% of Canadian children and youth8 and 15% of Canadian adults9 meet physical activity guidelines. When split by body mass index categories, obese girls average 11 159 steps per day, while normal-weight girls average 10 224 steps per day. Obese boys average fewer steps (10 256 steps per day) than their normal-weight counterparts (12 584 steps per day), but they have a larger body to carry. Translating this physical activity level into calories expended (kcal per day) would likely show that obese boys actually burn more calories on a daily basis.
Similar findings are observed for Canadian adults. Overall, the message is that there is a physical inactivity crisis in Canada—most people do not meet the recommended amount of physical activity required each day for health benefits—and every Canadian, regardless of body size, would benefit from an increase in physical activity and a decrease in sitting time.
Rather than focusing on burning calories, interventions should aim at reducing sedentary activities and increasing physical activities to improve overall health and general well-being.”