Human nature leads society to assign blame whenever problems arise so that people can better cope with issues and focus on ways to solve problems. In recent decades, the obesity epidemic has spread from adults to children, and the rise of television and computer use coincides perfectly with that timetable. Is technology the source of our increased waistlines, or should we focus on another culprit?

Less Physical Activity Increases Risk of Death
A recent study led by I-Min Lee of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School suggests a lack of physical activity may cause as many deaths worldwide as smoking. It points to the need for moderate exercise such as walking to combat the effects of heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. The study suggests that if the number of people becoming physically active increased by 25 percent, the world would avoid 1.3 million deaths.

Doctors and nutritionists have yet to reach a consensus on the weekly exercise requirements to stay healthy except to point out that frequent exercise helps. Urban planners argue that combining people’s living, working, and shopping needs in one sustainable community reduces the need for cars and promotes a healthy lifestyle. Maybe they are on to something.

It’s About More Consumption, Not Less Activity
Another study led by Herman Pontzer of Hunter College suggests that people today are no less active than our ancestors, who were forced to hunt for food instead of having the luxury of ordering their pizza online. In the first study of its kind, Pontzer and his team compared the daily calories burned by adults in the U.S. and Europe with that of the Hazda population of Tanzania, who live as traditional hunter-gatherers. After analyzing several scenarios, they determined that both groups expend the same amount of energy.

If you have seen old paintings and photos before people could Photoshop, you may have noticed a mix of rotund and thin subjects. Girth was more a sign of affluence than a lack of activity, as the rich had easy access to more food before cars and computers came into existence. Simple math proves that if you take in more calories than you expend on energy, your weight will increase. This repeated scenario over time should show dramatic increases in size.

Who Is Right?
The Pontzer study is more plausible. Nobody will argue that people are watching more television, surfing the Internet, and playing more games than ever before, and society is facing an obesity epidemic that shows no signs of improving. In the end, however, it doesn’t really matter which study is correct.

If researchers agree that the average person will not easily change his or her active habits, what has to change? Approaching the situation from a different angle, if everyone exercises 30 minutes per day, would that stem the rise in obesity? The answers lie in what people are doing the rest of the day when they aren’t exercising, and more importantly, what they are eating. Technology isn’t at fault for the obesity epidemic, even though it may be a contributing factor. In the end, no matter how active or inactive people become, adopting healthy eating habits and monitoring food consumption should be the primary focus for curing the obesity problem.

Author Bio: believes that we can solve our weight problems by focusing on research-based information to help us make better lifestyle choices.