- The Washington Times - Friday, March 1, 2013

American women are fat because they don’t vacuum enough. That’s — kind of — the finding from a new study published this month on American waistlines.

The study, reported by the New York Times, is a follow-up to a 2011 full research report showing a five-decade trend of American workers to hold sit-down jobs versus physical labor positions. That trend, based on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, means workers are burning 150 fewer calories per day than they used to, the report said.

Coincidentally, over the same 50-year period, America’s obesity rate has been on a steady climb. But the study based on BLS numbers overlooked a key population segment — women who worked at home.

So researchers launched a new study, focusing on the stay-at-home woman. And, in a roundabout way, the study concludes that obesity rates are hitting these women hard, too, due to their rising avoidance of physical household chores.

Women in the 1960s spent nearly 26 hours per week on average cleaning, cooking and doing laundry, the New York Times said. Fast-forward to 2010, and women only spent a little more than 13 hours per week on average on housework. And they were spending almost 17 hours a week on average in front of the television.

“Those are large reductions in energy expenditure” that could lead to significant weight gain, said Edward Archer, a research fellow with the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, and lead author of the new study. “We need to start finding ways to incorporate movement back into” our lives.

Mr. Archer had several suggestions.

“Walk to the mailbox,” he said. “Chop vegetables in the kitchen. Play ball with your, or a neighbor’s, dog.”

He also clarified that he wasn’t trying to suggest men or women engaged in more housework.