A recent Stanford Study adds evidence that a sedentary lifestyle is a greater problem than even diet in contributing to obesity. Most patients in our practice tend to overestimate the amount of exercise they perform and underestimate the caloric intake.

The researchers looked at national survey results of people’s health habits — including diet and exercise — from 1988 to 2010. The stunner was the increase in people who reported no leisure-time physical activity.

In 1988, 19 percent of women were inactive. By 2010, that number had jumped to 52 percent.

For men, the rate nearly quadrupled, going from 11 to 43 percent in the same time period.

But what didn’t change was the number of calories people consumed. In other words, people were eating about the same but exercising significantly less.

The research can only suggest an association between inactivity and increasing obesity, but that people should not decide diet is irrelevant to obesity.

It raises the question of how much of the change in obesity prevalence might be related to physical activity.

The researchers analyzed results from the National Health and Nutrition Survey, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control. Participants reported their activity over the last month and their diet over the last 24 hours. The team did not find a difference in total caloric count or breakdown by protein, carbohydrate and fat, over the 22-year study period.

The prevalence of obesity increased from 1988-2010, from 25 to 35 percent of women and from 20 to 35 percent of men.

There are numerous benefits we can attribute to exercise beyond just weight control. I always emphasize that exercise has to be a consistent part of one’s daily life.

Individuals with the highest levels of cardiorespiratory fitness during middle age were significantly less likely to develop dementia in their senior years, a long-term prospective study suggested.

Exercise On a Regular Basis and It Lowers Your Risk of: Heart disease, stroke, diabetes, colon cancer, colonic polyps, hypertension, and possibly breast and other cancers. If all that is not enough remember that exercise is held up as one of the most important aspects of a healthy lifestyle. It burns calories, it is good for your heart and it can make you happier. Its benefits do not end there, though; new research has found that exercise also boosts the diversity of bacteria found in the gut, which can have positive long-term health implications.

Dr. Alan Safdi is board certified in Internal Medicine and in Gastroenterology and is a Fellow of the American College of Gastroenterology. He is the past Chairman of the Department of Gastroenterology at the Deaconess Hospital and current Chairman of the Ohio GI and Liver Institute. A proven leader in the healthcare arena, he has been featured on the national program, “Medical Crossfire” and authored or co-authored numerous medical articles and abstracts. Safdi has been involved in grant-based and clinical research for over 33 years and is passionate about disease prevention and wellness, not just fixing what has gone wrong. He is an international lecturer on the subjects of wellness, nutrition and gastroenterology.