Science Has Worked Out The World’s Laziest Country – And It’s Not Where You’d Think

The world’s most and least fittest countries have been worked out by scientists – using mobile phone data.

A research team from Stanford University in the USA have interrogated how many steps 700,000 people from around the globe took, using 68 million days worth of information to break down minute-by-minute findings. 

Hong Kong came out on top, with an average of 6,880 per day, while it was Indonesia at the tail end, with 3,513. The UK pulled in a respectable 5,444. Japan was high with 6,010, Spain was at the upper end with 5,936, with the United Arab Emirates at the lower end, with 4,516, alongside Brazil, with 4,289. 

The international average was 4,961.

The study, published in the journal Nature, used data collated from people who were using the Argus app, which allows users to record their daily activity, food, sleep and heart rate. 

Some interesting conclusions have emerged from the study. Rather than the average number of steps that a country takes being the most significant factor in determining obesity levels, ‘activity inequality’ seems to be of the highest importance. 

This is the gap between the most and least active. Countries like Sweden, for instance, have only a small gap between the most and least active and low levels of obesity, while the USA and Mexico have similar step averages, but the former has higher levels of activity inequality – and high obesity levels. 

Of the findings, bioengineering professor Scott Delp, who worked on the study said: “The study is 1,000 times larger than any previous study on human movement.

“There have been wonderful health surveys done, but our new study provides data from more countries, many more subjects, and tracks people’s activity on an ongoing basis.

“This opens the door to new ways of doing science at a much larger scale than we have been able to do before.”

Gender was also shown to be a factor in levels of activity inequality. Countries with high levels of activity inequality, like Saudi Arabia and the USA, show that women are less active than men, while countries with low levels of obesity and inequality, such as Japan, show that men and women did similar amounts of exercise.

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