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Does Less Housework by Women Lead to More Obesity?

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Calories In, Calories Out continued...

"We found that non-employed women are spending about 360 calories less per day in physical activity, and if we look at obesity as calories in and calories out, this is a huge number of calories," Archer says. "It's about 15% of their total daily energy expenditure. We spend hundreds of millions of dollars studying diet and nutrition, which is the energy in, but we spend almost no money on the energy-expenditure portion of the equation. The most modifiable factor in the energy-balance equation is physical activity."

The researchers also found that the amount of time women spent watching television, and later using the computer, doubled from eight hours in 1965 to 16 hours in 2010.

Archer says the physical activity guidelines for health recommend 30 minutes per day, which is enough to lessen the risk of heart disease and stroke. However, this is not going to have much of an effect on weight and body fat. For that, the Institute of Medicine recommends at least an hour per day of moderate activity for weight maintenance, and at least 90 minutes to two hours of daily moderate exercise to lose weight.

Archer says that while patients complain they are not going to have enough time for that, he says the television is the biggest source of wasted time.

"The number one recommendation is to turn off the television and replace that time with walking and lifting weights," he says.

To see a version of this story for physicians, visit Medscape, the leading site for physicians and health care professionals.

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