A global study by Stanford University researchers involving hundreds of thousands of smartphone users found a new public health risk for obesity: “activity inequality.”
The Stanford University study, published in “Nature,” found that in countries with a wider activity inequality gap — where some people walk much more than others — obesity tends to be more prevalent. Alternatively, in countries where people tend to walk the same amount of steps — leading to a small activity inequality gap — obesity levels were found to be low.
“If you think about some people in a country as ‘activity rich’ and others as ‘activity poor,’ the size of the gap between them is a strong indicator of obesity levels in that society,” Scott Delp, a lead researcher on the study and bioengineer, said in The Stanford News.
Researchers tracked the steps of 717,000 women and men from 111 countries for roughly 95 days each with the ARGUS smartphone app. Data was anonymous, aside from key health indicators like height, weight, age and gender.
According to Stanford News, the study also revealed new information about gender in relation to obesity trends.
Researchers found men walk on average more than women, meaning that “when activity inequality is greatest, women’s activity is reduced much more dramatically than men’s activity, and thus the negative connections to obesity can affect women more greatly,” Jure Leskovec, a lead researcher on the study and computer scientist, told The Stanford News.
Studies have found getting enough physical activity can reduce your risk for certain diseases.
The map below shows average steps per country, based on the data from the study:
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