IN SHAPE

In North America over the past year there has been serious concern about high levels of obesity, not just among adults, but among relatively young children, too. Medical studies, media reports, and even school meal legislation have heightened awareness of ways in which sedentary lives, often coupled with bad eating habits, can affect a nation's health, quality of life, and even longevity.

At the same time, at least one sector of the population has been making a special effort to get fit by joining gyms, jogging, and dieting. This widespread enthusiasm to get in shape is reflected in a February 27 Gallup Poll showing that 29 percent of people in the United States can now be classified as "highly active" on the so-called physical exercise index. Nineteen percent of those sampled were "moderately active." People spent an average of 1.6 days a week participating in "vigorous exercise" that lasted at least 20 minutes. And, if one included those who engaged only in "moderate sports or recreational activities," the average shot up to 3.3 days a week.

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May 15, 2006
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