Does Our Labor-Saving Technology Make Us Fat?

Relaxing after a hard day gathering nuts and berries

Have our modern conveniences contributed to the fact that two thirds of us are overweight or obese?  It would make sense, because we should be burning fewer calories in the activities of daily living.  If our daily workload decreases but we eat the same old calories, they gotta go somewhere, right?  Like into our fat stores.

We no longer have to walk down to the river to fetch a five-gallon bucket of water for washing.  No longer do we go out a forage for food and firewood. We don’t even have to get up off the couch to change the channel on the TV.

Hunter-gatherer societies don’t have our modern conveniences.  You’d think they burn a lot more calories than us in activities of daily living.  You’d be wrong.

At least one group of hunter-gatherers doesn’t burn any more calories in physical activity than Western cultures.  So much for blaming our excess weight on low activity levels and labor-saving technology.

BBC article on energy expenditure of the Hazda hunter-gatherer culture.


h/t Colby Vorland at

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