Researchers analysing data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) in US have found that there has been a sharp decrease in physical exercise and an increase in average Body Mass Index (BMI) for the past 20 years, while caloric intake has remained steady.

"At the population level, we found a significant association between the level of leisure-time physical activity, but not daily caloric intake, and the increases in both BMI and waist circumference," said Uri Ladabaum, associate professor at Stanford University School of Medicine in US.

The number of US adult women, who reported no physical activity, jumped from 19.1 percent in 1994 to 51.7 percent in 2010.

For men, the number increased from 11.4 percent in 1994 to 43.5 percent in 2010. During the period, average BMI has increased across the board, with the most dramatic rise found amongst young women between 18 and 39 years of age.

The study looked at the escalation of obesity in terms of both exercise and caloric intake.

The study appeared in American Journal of Medicine.


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