It is easy to say that obesity is a problem because people are lazy, or because people eat too much, but obesity and weight problems, in general, are multifaceted. It is never as simple as a label you can hang around people’s necks by calling them dumb, lazy, or overeaters. Most people in the developed world struggle with obesity, and North America is stricken with an obesity problem. The problem is multifaceted, and so the question begs, could “one” of those facets be modern technology and devices?
Elevators and Escalators
You have probably seen the meme of the escalator going up to the gym, and you probably figure that if we did away with elevators and escalators, then people would be thinner. Sadly, this is woefully untrue.
Take the example of escalators in malls. If people had to use stairs, they would exert themselves more, would tire more quickly and would spend less time walking around shopping. The inclusion of escalators are the reason why people walk around the shops more. Rather than expending energy climbing stairs, people expend the same energy walking around the shops.
Even gyms that have escalators and elevators are doing their customers a favor. Said customers spend their energy doing targeted exercises for different muscles in their bodies rather than working out their legs on stairs.
The Humble Washing Machine and Electronic Drier
It is true that if people had to hand wash and dry their clothes, then they would expend more energy and ergo do more exercise. Even the fact that clothes have to be washed while standing is going to burn calories over the hours. Plus, the amount of scrubbing, shifting, stirring, and lifting would also burn calories. Sadly, in the developed world, washing and drying clothes by hand is too labor-intensive and would severely damage a person’s quality of life.
Surely the act of washing the dishes helps people lose weight? Sadly not. People who own dishwashers are no fatter than people who wash their pots, pans, and dishes by hand. The primary reason for this is that washing the pots is not a very labor intensive process and is often over very quickly. Unless somebody is doing squats while washing the pots, they are not likely to lose their weight.
Tabletop PCs, Laptops and Handheld Tablets
Some people claim that more people work from home and use tabletop devices for entertainment which means they move around less. Yet, the same argument could have been made for watching the TV, and yet obesity on a wide scale became a problem long after the TV became a household staple.
On the other hand, working on a PC or laptop in general is rather fattening since the worker has to remain stationary for a very long time every working day, which slows the metabolism and makes it harder for people to lose weight.
Working on tablets, laptops, and PCs at home or in an office is always going to make weight loss more difficult when compared to working on a building site or other forms of manual labor. Perhaps technology is not responsible for people gaining weight, but such technology can certainly make it more difficult for people to lose weight.
Cars and Motorbikes
No, contrary to what most other articles claim, cars and motorbikes do not make it harder to lose weight. Other articles argue that cars encourage you to drive to the grocery store or drive-thru, but that is just not true. People without cars take busses and taxis, and they have their fast food and groceries delivered.
In fact, the ability and freedom to move around means that people with cars can go on nature walks, drive to the gym, and partake in hobbies and DIY projects. In this day and age, having personal transport may help people stay trim. However, with that said, people who own bicycles are far more likely to stay trim than people who own cars.
Online Grocery Buying
A fairly new piece of technology is the ability to buy groceries online via websites and/or apps. Some people think that this helps to make people fatter, but the opposite is actually true.
Grocery stores are set up to encourage impulse buying, whereas websites and apps are woefully inadequate when it comes to encouraging impulse buying. In fact, many online grocery shoppers find themselves skipping through pages and pages and discounts because they cannot find anything good they want to eat.
To combat the un-appealing nature of online grocery shopping, many online stores have added recipe functions. This is where you may see the meal, and then buy the ingredients to make it. Though this is a fine idea with plenty of potential, it is still not as appealing as walking past a salad bar, bakery area, chilled treats counter, or candy aisle.
Let’s address the elephant in the room. Whenever the issue of weight problems and obesity comes up, people always find a way of pointing their finger at the thing that follows them around every day like a second liver. We all know that a smartphone enables practically anything. You can build your online business for one price or stalk your grandma, but there are many people who see it as an easy target.
People have been trying to find a way to blame the smartphone for weight problems for years, but the fact is that obesity and weight problems have been plaguing the developed world long before even the thought of a portable computer was hatched.
There has never been any tangible evidence that smartphones make it more difficult to lose weight. Even Science Daily claimed that people who used their smartphone for five hours per day were 43% more likely to be obese, yet their study had a blatant disregard for the fact that the people who were obese already had a very sedentary lifestyle and that the same numbers could be applied to heavy gamers and movie watchers.
For the most part, we cannot blame modern technology for the fact that most people are overweight in developed countries. We could point the finger at sedentary professions that require people to sit all day at a computer, but it seems unfair to blame technology for the demands that the modern economy has placed on us. We are no longer cracking rocks with bigger rocks, and that is a good thing, ergo we cannot blame modern technology for the fact it is harder to lose weight these days.
What do you think of technology and obesity? Do you think obesity is increasing because of it? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter, or Facebook. You can also comment on our MeWe page by joining the MeWe social network.