It’s not too surprising, but it appears that inactivity versus caloric intake is the primary culprit behind the obesity epidemic.

An increasing wave of research has focused on this aspect of the growing health concerns around obesity, but the latest findings leverage CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a long study involving over 17,000 participants.  The study will appear in the August issue of The American Journal of Medicine.

The authors of the new study make a compelling case as to how and why physical activity is so closely correlated with obesity and how caloric intake has mistakenly taken the media’s attention off the real underlying obesity trigger.

We’re tracking a number of trends around this area, two in particular deserve some attention. The overall obesity trend is currently at 92 points, +2 points over the prior month. Physical Activity and it’s health effects has been on an increasing trajectory for some time now, at 82 points, up +5 points over the prior month.

The table and chart below illustrate the current state of the broad discussion around obesity.  The current TrendSignal is sitting at and extreme point of 92, with a trailing 12-month average of 91.  The topic of obesity is obviously taking center stage across the broad media landscape.

The next chart touches on the media effects around the most recent study out of Stanford University using the CDC survey data.  Media activity can never be a proxy for actual survey data, but we’re interested in how the discussion of physical activity and its affects on health resonates over time.  Is the media acknowledging the research and evidence and fostering a discussion among those most affected by the research.  The answer is clear yes as shown in the table and supporting charts below.  While below the broad obesity trend signal, the direction and magnitude within the media is strong and increasing.

We contrast the physical activity topic with the other classic nutrition effects on health through a carefully developed Obesity and Health TrendTopic. The later is trending at 72 points up +4 points over the prior period.

There are always trade-offs in the media – both social and traditional sources.  We were curious if nutritional effects on children’s health were declining in media coverage as the physical activity/inactivity storylines increased in frequency.  The supporting trend charts below show a leveling of coverage for nutritional storylines with respect to teens and children.

I hope this post provides some insight into how the media is shifting along with much of the new research into addressing the obesity problem.  There’s still quite and industry that is determined to make food consumption and caloric metrics the focus in these discussions.  But according to our TrendSignal numbers the media discussion has begun a much needed shift towards physical activity/inactivity storylines.