Filed Under: Big Fat Lies

Cause of Big Bodies Is Still Small Choices

It’s refreshing to see that actual scientists who don’t parrot the usual activist line can get their studies mentioned in a major newspaper every so often (though we still have a long way to go before The New York Times gives equal time to balance out Mark Bittman anecdotes).

One such study by researchers from the Miliken Institute, “Waistlines of the World: The Effect of Information and Communications Technology on Obesity,” gets a shout out in the Los Angeles Times Booster Shots blog. The Times summarizes:

The study […] studied the rise of communications technology investment in 27 countries between 1988 and 2009, and found that with each 10% jump in such investments as a share of gross capital formation, a country’s obesity rate rose 1.4%.


In fact, the Milken Institute report asserts the connection between a country’s growing investment in technology and its spreading collective waistline is not just coincidence: It’s a causal link. The direct effect of citizens spending more of their workdays at desks and more of their evenings sitting in front of a screen accounts for more than two-thirds of the observed growth in obesity, the study finds. 

This is old news for those of you that have been reading our blog, but it’s still good to point out when others catch on. The study is intriguing and it harkens back to our own report, Small Choices, Big Bodies.

The Miliken Institute isn’t making a plea to go back to some agrarian fantasy land where we can spend our days inefficiently plowing our own fields:

For countries whose investments in communications technologies top 30% of gross capital formation, a 1% increase in physically active citizens can head off a .2% rise in obesity rates.

The need for increased physical activity to stave off obesity is something that we’ve heard again and again, but it bears repeating. And although summer is winding down and the inspiration from the Olympics may be long gone, perhaps football season will encourage more people to play a backyard game with some friends.

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