News Flash: Americans are lazy which makes us fat.

A new study from Stanford University’s Department of No Shit, Sherlock shows that Americans are among the laziest when it comes to walking anywhere other than to the fridge for more chocolate pie. Researchers used the step counters in the smartphones of 700,000 people in 46 different countries to figure this out:

The U.S. is one of the world’s laziest countries — and it’s making us fat — USA Today

Scott Delp, a professor of bioengineering who co-led the research, told the BBC the “study is 1,000 times larger than any previous study on human movement.”

The least lazy, according to the study published in the journal Nature, are the Chinese, particularly those in Hong Kong, where people averaged 6,880 a steps a day.

The worst nation was nearby Indonesia, where people walked nearly half as much, averaging 3,513 steps a day. The worldwide average is 4,961 steps, with Americans averaging 4,774.

Now this study might seem pointless, but it turns out it does reveal an interesting fact. Indonesia has the lowest average steps per day for its population so you’d think they’d be much more likely to be obese similar to people in the United States, but it turns out that’s not the case because there is much less variation in the population between who walks a lot and who doesn’t. The researchers refer to this as “activity inequality” and it turns out the bigger that inequality is the more likely a nation is to be obese:

In countries with less obesity, the Stanford researchers say, people typically walked a similar amount every day. In nations with higher rates of obesity, there were larger gaps between those who walked a lot and those who walked very little.

Among those latter countries is the United States, where “activity inequality” ranks Americans fourth from the bottom overall.

“If you think about some people in a country as ‘activity rich’ and others as ‘activity poor,’ the size of the gap between them is a strong indicator of obesity levels in that society,” Delp told the Stanford news site.

Tim Althoff, who worked on the study, pointed to Sweden, with an average of 5,863 steps, as having one of the smallest activity inequality gaps. “It also had one of the lowest rates of obesity,” he said.

Additionally, whether you lived in dense urban or less dense suburban areas also plays a factor:

Jennifer Hicks, another researcher in the study, told the Stanford news site that they examined three California cities located close to one another – San Francisco, San Jose and Fremont. They found San Francisco held both the highest walkability score and the lowest level of activity inequality.

“In cities that are more walkable, everyone tends to take more daily steps, whether male or female, young or old, healthy weight or obese,” Hicks said.

I can’t speak for any other Americans, but I am a fundamentally lazy person who hates to exercise even though I know I really should.  My previous attempts at establishing a walking routine have been documented on this very blog, all of which I gave up on. I just can’t seem to get into the walking habit.

That said, the move to our new home does put me within a reasonable walking distance to a few stores, though it’s still longer than I’d like to attempt in my current shape. We’ve managed to land in a decent neighborhood where it’s not uncommon to see folks out walking for exercise during the day.

I doubt I’ll try getting into walking again simply because I already know I won’t stick with it. However, part of the my motivation for buying a house was so I’d have someplace to store a bicycle and now that I have one I’ve started looking for a decent bike that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg that I could start peddling around the block a few times. The reason I want one that isn’t expensive is just in case I fail at establishing that as a routine too. No point in spending $700 on a bike I don’t use. Did that once with the elliptical exercise machine I bought back when we lived in Ann Arbor. Not making that mistake again.

There’s a local bike shop not too far from my house that I would like to stop by this weekend and take a look around. I don’t need anything with a million gears on it, just something that will stand up to my weight. I used to love riding my bike as a kid well up through my teenaged years and I’m hoping I’ll still enjoy it today. Granted, it won’t do me much good during the winter months, but some exercise would be better than none.

As for the rest of the country, I’ve no solutions to offer up to get us all to exercise a bit more. If I have a hard time motivating myself to do it there’s no way I can think of some way to get everyone else to do it.

An infographic on the State of Education in the U.S.

An illustration of the problem:

Information provided by: Online Education

Here’s what’s involved in legally immigrating to the United States.

The ongoing debate in an older entry over whether or not illegal immigration is a problem in the United States reminded me of a good infographic I came across the other day that explains what is involved in immigrating legally. This is something a lot of people aren’t aware of and while I did share it on my Facebook account I didn’t get around to posting it here. So I’m correcting that now:

Infographic on legal immigration.

Click to embiggen!

It’s a big graphic so you may need to scroll around a bit to see it all. If you’re using Firefox keep in mind that your browser will auto-shrink the image to fit your screen so you may need to left click on it to make it full size and then scroll around.

At any rate, it shows that, unless you’re a big celebrity or millionaire of some sort, the process of legally immigrating to the United States is both long and has very specific requirements which exclude millions of hopefuls. If you don’t have family already here then your only hope of legally immigrating is if you have a skill set desirable enough for a company to offer you a job that’s also willing to go through the expensive process of sponsoring you. When you’re an engineer or computer programmer that’s less of a problem. When your desired skill set is standing out in a field in triple digit temperatures picking crops for minimum wages then it’s much more of a problem.

Here in the U.S. we are taught in grade school about the inscription on the book the Statue of Liberty holds which reads as follows:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I can recall feeling a special kind of pride at learning this as a child. How cool are we, I used to think, that we’ll take in anyone willing to work hard to realize their dreams. Except that’s not how it works anymore and it hasn’t for a long time.

In short, the fabled story of a poor immigrant coming to the U.S. to start a new life and perhaps realize the American dream is impossible today. There once was a time when that was possible, but those days are long gone now. Unless you’ve got a good reason to be here — family, highly skilled, wealth or fame — you can forget about legally immigrating to the U.S. anytime soon.

U.S. ranks 42nd in life expectency behind countries such as friggin’ Guam.

U.S. Lags Behind 41 Nations in Life Span – Forbes.com

“Something’s wrong here when one of the richest countries in the world, the one that spends the most on health care, is not able to keep up with other countries,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, head of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

No shit. Certainly a lot of this has to do with the fact that we’re rich enough to be fat and lazy, but the fact that 45 million people are without health care doesn’t help in the slightest.

A baby born in the United States in 2004 will live an average of 77.9 years. That life expectancy ranks 42nd, down from 11th two decades earlier, according to international numbers provided by the Census Bureau and domestic numbers from the National Center for Health Statistics.

Andorra, a tiny country in the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain, had the longest life expectancy, at 83.5 years, according to the Census Bureau. It was followed by Japan, Maucau, San Marino and Singapore.

The shortest life expectancies were clustered in Sub-Saharan Africa, a region that has been hit hard by an epidemic of HIV and AIDS, as well as famine and civil strife. Swaziland has the shortest, at 34.1 years, followed by Zambia, Angola, Liberia and Zimbabwe.

As always there’s still a significant racial disparity to boot:

Racial disparities. Black Americans have an average life expectancy of 73.3 years, five years shorter than white Americans.

Black American males have a life expectancy of 69.8 years, slightly longer than the averages for Iran and Syria and slightly shorter than in Nicaragua and Morocco.

And our infant mortality rates are just plain stupid:

A relatively high percentage of babies born in the U.S. die before their first birthday, compared with other industrialized nations.

Forty countries, including Cuba, Taiwan and most of Europe had lower infant mortality rates than the U.S. in 2004. The U.S. rate was 6.8 deaths for every 1,000 live births. It was 13.7 for Black Americans, the same as Saudi Arabia.

“It really reflects the social conditions in which African American women grow up and have children,” said Dr. Marie C. McCormick, professor of maternal and child health at the Harvard School of Public Health. “We haven’t done anything to eliminate those disparities.”

The fact that Cuba, with all the sanctions it has to deal with, has a lower infant mortality rate than the U.S. is just flabbergasting. But at least the Insurance Companies are making record profits, eh? Best health care in the world? Perhaps.

Shame only a few can afford it.