Is a lack of housework really making women fat?

Can the Daily Mail’s attention grabbing headline “Not doing enough housework is ‘making women fat’, study claims” be right?

Putting aside the obvious connotations, they have a point – but it’s not just housework and it’s not just women. Modern life is energy-saving; we now use a vacuum cleaner instead of sweeping or scrubbing the floor; we drive to the supermarket instead of walking around the local shops to buy our food; we take the escalator instead of walking up the stairs; we sit at a desk for at least 8-hours a day, and the list goes on. All this energy-saving technology has meant our daily calorie burn has decreased and obesity levels have risen.

Whilst obesity is on the increase our calorie intake has actually decreased over the past 30-years by about 20%, according to research from the Institute of Fiscal Studies. The researchers found that, we are eating out more, snacking more and spending more on food, but we are filling our shopping baskets with healthier options. So, although our calorie intake has decreased, our calorie burn must have decreased even more.

Researcher Melanie Lührmann suggests “we are probably ill-advised to just look at food consumption as the main factor explaining obesity. Both physical activity and calories are important.”

Exercise is only one way to increase your daily calorie burn and if you enjoy it, keep it up! But, don’t forget about the other 23.5hours of your day – assuming you sleep for 8-hours, as well as your 30-minute workout you have another 930 minutes to burn extra calories (or 960 minutes if you don’t like exercise). Put it this way, if you burnt half a calorie more every minute you’re awake, you would burn almost 500 extra calories even if you don’t exercise. If you didn’t change what you were eating, you should see a weight loss of about 1lb a week.

It’s all about finding ways to move more throughout your day, just like your grandparents did. And that goes for all of us, not just women.

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