Health Care

Here's where Thailand ranked in a study on the world's laziest countries

Here's where Thailand ranked in a study on the world's laziest countries

The huge dataset allowed researchers to analyze step data according to country, gender and community type.

The study, published in the Nature journal, gives an insight into how countries can improve people's health.

The researchers say using anonymous data from smartphones is an "immensely powerful tool" for conducting this kind of research.

The team equipped smartphones with small sensors called accelerometers to automatically record participants' stepping motions.

Researchers from the Stanford University made use of step-counters installed in phones of people.

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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". He said that there have been big health surveys already done in the past, but the 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".

Results show that five countries with the greatest activity inequality were nearly 200% more likely to be obese than the bottom five. 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. Sweden, where the difference between the most inactive and most active population isn't much, has low obesity levels.

Thailand was ranked in 31st place out of 46, with an average of 4,764 steps, just one place behind the United States in 30th which averaged 4,774 steps. When the researchers tested this hypothesis via a computer simulation, it resulted in a four times greater reduction in obesity compared to un-targeted approaches. This is the difference between the most and least active people in a country (similar to "income inequality", which is the difference between the richest and poorest people).

The researchers wanted to examine the potential impact of the walkability of a city on activity levels. One researcher noted that if people in an area have to cross a major highway to get someplace, they would likely take the auto. Pedestrian friendly cities like NY have more active population.

The United States emerged as fourth from the bottom in activity inequality, noting a massive gap between activity rich and activity poor. It found that the average number of steps taken each day was approximately 5,000, or the equivalent of 4 kilometres.

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