It will give couch potatoes more reason to put their feet up and disappoint those who hit the gym to try to shed the extra pounds.
Apparently, exercising is not the best way to lose weight. Research shows that, contrary to popular belief, we are not less active than we were 20 years ago.
This means that the growing obesity problem is down to people eating too much, not a lack of exercise, according to Professor John Speakman.
Previous research has shown that both calorie restriction and endurance exercise protects against many chronic diseases including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer. However, the research has shown that only calorie restriction increases maximum lifespan by up to 50 percent. These studies suggest that leanness is a key factor in the prevention of age-associated disease, but reducing caloric intake is needed to slow down aging.
Working with a Dutch colleague, Professor Speakman, of Aberdeen University, analysed two decades of studies on energy expenditure.
The data, from the U.S. and the Netherlands, showed that despite a growing reliance on time-saving technology, people today are not any less active than those of 20 years ago.
Factors such as decline in the number of children walking to school and a rise in TV watching do not necessarily equate to weight gain, the International Journal of Obesity reports.
For example, children driven to school have more time to spend running around in the playground, while evening TV watching has replaced other sedentary activities such as reading and listening to the radio.
Professor Speakman told the British Science Festival: ‘In the 1950s no one would have bought an exercise bike and sat on it in their garage but now people will do that.’
The researcher, however, stressed that physical activity is good for the body in other ways and should be part of a ‘healthy, balanced lifestyle’.