Today the CBC is running a story that claims a lack of physical activity is the leading cause of obesity in Canada. Sometimes I read a story and have a gut reaction so blunt that I take pause, rethink the angle of the story, and make sure I haven’t missed anything obvious before offering up a comment. This was one of those articles. I’ve thought a LOT about it since reading it. And I’m confident I haven’t missed anything (please inform me if you disagree).
So here’s my measured response…
Really, scientists!!?? We needed a study to tell us that?
I’ll go one further. I suspect that future studies will find that lack of physical activity is the leading cause of obesity everywhere, and that that finding will turn out to be species-independent. I’m not trying to be glib, but it’s hard to respond seriously to an article that seems to state the painfully obvious.
On a related note, I was recently in Hong Kong. While I was there I took some pictures of public health posters that I saw posted around the city. Apparently the good people of Hong Kong don’t require scientists to tell them why their population is suffering obesity.
Perhaps we could use a few more of these kinds of programs in countries where we need scientific studies to convince us (as if it were an open question) that a lack of physical activity is a leading contributor to obesity. The programs might turn out to be cheaper than the studies.
I recall doing chin-ups, push-ups, sit-ups, running, jumping, and other such activities in school, as part of a mandatory program called Canada Fitness.* It took for granted that physical activity was good for people’s health and forced children to get active. Maybe it strayed from the current trend in “evidence-based” practise, by proposing an unproven solution to a problem that had also not yet been scientifically proven. But, seriously. Have we really lost sight of the obvious?
(*To my surprise there is no Wikipedia page dedicated to the old Canada Fitness program.)