UK office workers burn as many calories as their hunter gatherer ancestors, it has been claimed.
A US universities-led study – published in the PLoS ONE journal – found that western men and women use the same amount of energy each day as traditional tribespeople from the open savannah of Tanzania.
Although they trek for miles each day hunting for game, members of the Hadza tribe were found to burn no more calories per day than a study group of Americans and Europeans.
And as such, it may not be possible to blame the current obesity epidemic on a lack of exercise among westerners.
Researchers have suggested that the rate at which humans use calories remains relatively constant regardless of their lifestyle.
Study leader Herman Pontzer, of Hunter College in New York, said the vast majority of what humans spend calories on is “things you will never see like keeping our organs and immune system going”.
He claimed that physical activity “is just the tip of the iceberg” where energy use is concerned.
“If you spend a bit more [energy] on something like physical activity, you spend a bit less on something else but you do not notice it,” Mr Pontzer added.
“This study shows that you can have a very different lifestyle, but [energy use] all adds up to the same level no matter what.”
So office workers need to think about their diet if they wish to keep their waistlines in check.
With many employees desk-bound for the majority of the day, there is a temptation to eat lots and exercise relatively little.
This is a combination which will surely lead to weight gain, so workers need to show discipline and a degree of self-control when the biscuit tin is passed round the room.
Keeping food consumption at controllable levels gives office workers the best possible chance of leading a healthy life, and being a productive employee on a daily basis.