Lt Col Phillips
Physical activity has a direct impact on energy balance because it determines the number of calories that a person uses. Dr. Patel, can you tell us how inactivity can be a risk factor for obesity?

Dr. Patel
Unfortunately, Dr. Phillips, many Americans don’t spend enough time being physically active. It may be surprising to some people that this is a problem in the military as well.

One reason for inactivity is that many people spend too much time in front of TV and computer screens on a daily basis. Studies have suggested that watching TV for more than two hours a day is linked to being overweight or obese. Other pastimes such as gaming, reading, and social media can also be part of an inactive lifestyle if too much time is spent doing these activities.

People who work at a desk all day long are at greater risk than those whose jobs are more physically demanding. It’s important for people with desk jobs to make time outside of work for physical activity.

Other reasons for inactivity include relying on cars instead of walking or biking, modern technology and conveniences that reduce physical demands at home, and lack of physical education classes in schools.

Being inactive is a risk factor for obesity because it means the body is not using as many calories as it’s taking in from food and drink, leading to energy imbalance. Inactivity also raises the risk for other health problems, including coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and several types of cancer.