Sofa Spuds

Sloppily Sensationalizing Slothfulness

Poking fun, just for fun, USA Today this week has a feature on the laziest cities in America. These are smaller cities with working class demographics. Three of the top five are in Alabama: Gadsden, Anniston, and Dothan. Also in the top five are Texarkana, Texas, and Pine Bluff, Arkansas. The gist of the article is that these are the least physically active places in America. But these rankings are not based on total physically activity. In fact, they’re really all about leisure time physical activity. That seems like a sloppy way to sensationalize slothfulness.

Self-Reports of Leisure Time Physical Activity

We have two problems with this report. One is that it relies upon self-reports of exercise. So that introduces systematic bias. People report more of whatever they think good people should do. Exercise falls into the category of what you’re supposed to do. So people over-report their exercise. Especially when exercise is important to their identity as a “good” person.

Physical Activity at Work

Second, in these cities of slothfulness, a working class identity is big. Occupational physical activity is important. But physical activity at work isn’t even a factor in these rankings.

Discounting occupational physical activity is a mistake. Many people spend more of their waking hours at work than at leisure. Active work lives have value. Declining levels of physical activity at work is a problem that deserves attention.

Not only is this report on slothful cities misleading. We don’t see how it’s helpful.

Click here for the report in USA Today. For more on the importance of different types of physical activity, click here.

Sofa Spuds, photograph © theilr / flickr

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February 12, 2020

One Response to “Sloppily Sensationalizing Slothfulness”

  1. February 12, 2020 at 11:02 am, David Brown said:

    Excerpt from a book chapter entitled “Importance of Dietary Fatty Acid Profile and Experimental Conditions in the Obese Insulin-Resistant Rodent Model of Metabolic Syndrome”

    “The rising incidence of childhood obesity and T2D, high blood pressure, hyperinsulinemia and dyslipidemia are particularly worrisome as these children often mature to be obese adults.This risk of developing obesity and T2D has largely been blamed on the increased consumption of energy dense foods and fat intake, particularly saturated fat, but it is interesting to know that the mean fat intake of the human population has not increased much in the past 50 years.It is true that the vast advancement in technological developments has led to a reduction in physical activity worldwide, but as obesity now involves infants and the populations of developing countries, this obesity pandemic cannot be attributed to this alone.In addition, laboratory and other domesticated animals have also been subject to the increased prevalence of obesity, despite having largely unchanged living conditions for many years.”

    Another excerpt:
    “Sanjoy Ghosh, a Michael Smith Health Research Foundation Scholar and a professor at UBC’s Okanagan campus, has recently published research that concludes a high consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) but not monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) can lead to sedentary or lazy behaviour, especially in women.”