Healthy Things

I’m always amazed by what correlates with education.  The latest statistic I’ve learned about is regular exercise.  It appears that the less education you have, the more likely you are just to laze around:

Regular Leisure-Time Physical Activity

This data comes from the CDC and is technically the percentage of adults aged >25 years who reported regular leisure-time physical activity.  Two things immediately stand out here:

  1. If you’re poorly educated, you’re not exercising (and therefore, I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest more likely to be obsese)
  2. The trend is incredibly disturbing: only the well educated are engaging in more physical activity now vs. 10 years ago

I can’t help but wonder if this is going to become a self-reinforcing process.  Let’s speculate: if you’re poorly educate, you’re probably poorer.  Therefore you might have to work two jobs/more hours and have less time for leisure time and be more tired.  You probably also have less disposable income and therefore eat more fast food.  You’re getting squeezed by the current economy (and the long term trend that Chinese/Indian/Mexican workers are always going to be cheaper than you…).

If you’re highly educated, you can afford to eat better and have more job opportunities to keep your salary up while you are enough of a commodity to maintain a work-life balance.  What’s more, is that there are a whole host of services for you to keep you fit: gyms are an obvious one, but more interesting are the emerging class of high-end devices like the the LifeScan diabetes iPhone application and tracking tools like the FitBit.

This will be one long-term trend to monitor; hopefully the CDC will get us data more than once every 10 years.

  • cudders

    I remember being fascinated by this trend when I came across it in a course on the Economics of Health Care Policy. If you haven’t already, you should read “Who Shall Live?” by Fuchs. As far as I remember, he has this theory that the above can be explained by a person’s investment- reward timeframe profile Those who are prone towards investing now for large later profits, tend to be highly educated AND tend to exercise more/ have better diets. Interesting, non?

    http://books.google.com/books?id=VeWyqbi96L8C&dq=%22Who+Shall+Live%3F%22+Fuchs&source=gbs_summary_s&cad=0

  • http://www.lindsayrgwatt.com lindsayrgwatt

    Truly fascinating. I am definitely buying “Who Shall Live?”.

    For another interesting discussion about investing for larger later profits, try and download the “This American Life” podcast on “The Wrong Side of History”:
    http://www.thisamericanlife.org/Radio_Episode.aspx?sched=1287

    The first act “Hey Mr. DJ” has a discussion between an economist, an uncle and a cousin. The uncle wants his cousin to go to college; DJ (the cousin) doesn’t. It’s interesting to listen to where it goes…