Here’s the biggest danger to our health

QUICK READ: Spending too much leisure time in front of a TV or computer screen appears to dramatically increase the risk for heart disease and premature death from any cause, perhaps regardless of how much exercise one gets, according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Obesity is the leading cause of death in America, costing the health care system $1.72 trillion and it’s getting worse.

 55 per cent of the rise in adults’ weight over the past three decades has been driven by inactivity. The iPad and smartphone have ensured that we can sit in front of the TV and do nothing all day. Health insurance companies don’t seem to care either.

A prestigious team of medical scientists has projected that by 2030, nearly one in two adults will be obese, and nearly one in four will be severely obese. Many people say they don’t have the time to work out. But most of us spend hours each day viewing screens and making excuses for not going for walks, riding a bike or run.

About two-thirds of Americans do not meet the standard exercise guidelines of about 30 minutes a day of moderate exercises, such as walking. In past studies of exercise behavior, when researchers have asked people why they rarely work out, the almost-invariable response has been that time is too tight. Work, family, school, travel and other obligations seem to gobble up the hours, they said, leaving them feeling unable to sneak in a daily walk or a workout.

The number of adults living with diabetes has reached an estimated 463m — equivalent to 9.3 percent of the world’s adult population, and four times higher than the number of cases recorded four decades previously. The cost to the global economy is immense: upwards of $1.3tn, and rising. By 2045, the number of adult diabetes cases is expected to reach 700m. More than 100 million adults — almost half the entire adult population — have pre-diabetes or diabetes. Cardiovascular disease afflicts about 122 million people and causes roughly 840,000 deaths each year, or about 2,300 deaths each day. Three in four adults are overweight or obese. More Americans are sick, in other words, than are healthy.

The biggest driver? Inactivity.

The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, analyzed data from more than 750,000 adults in the United States, Europe and Australia, and found that recommended amounts of physical activity correlated with lower risks of seven types of cancer, of the 15 types that researchers looked at.

According to an analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average American man now stands at 5-feet-9 1/4 inches tall and weighs 196 pounds — up 15 pounds from 20 years ago. For women, the change has been even more striking: The average female today stands 5-feet-3 3/4 inches and weighs 169 pounds. In 1994, her scale read 152 pounds.

What this all means that even without the current pandemic our healthcare costs are going to go through the roof. Insurers need to get tough with customers who don’t exercise and it’s time to make people who live unhealthy lifestyles pay more for their health insurance.