Low physical activity levels of modern Homo sapiens among free-ranging mammals

Int J Obes (Lond). 2005 Jan;29(1):151-6. doi: 10.1038/sj.ijo.0802842.


Obesity prevalence rates are increasing worldwide and one prevailing hypothesis is that physical activity levels of modern humans are markedly reduced compared to those of our Paleolithic ancestors. We examine this hypothesis by deriving relative activity energy expenditure from available doubly labeled water and indirect calorimetry data in free-ranging non-human mammals. Our results, given the constraints posed by limited data availability, suggest that a low physical activity level, much less than that observed in free-ranging non-human mammals or highly active humans, is present in modern adult humans living within advanced settings. Our observations lend support to the hypothesis that low activity-related energy expenditure levels contribute to the rising worldwide prevalence of obesity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calorimetry, Indirect
  • Developed Countries*
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Humans
  • Mammals / physiology*
  • Motor Activity / physiology*