As a country shifts more heavily to a knowledge-based economy its citizens become fatter, says new research the explores the chubby underbelly of worldwide development.
The study, produced by the Milken Institute and released Wednesday, studied the rise of communications technology investment in 27 countries between 1988 and 2009, and found that with each 10% jump in such investments as a share of gross capital formation, a country's obesity rate rose 1.4%.
As correlations go, I've seen studies draw zanier links than this.
In fact, the Milken Institute report asserts the connection between a country's growing investment in technology and its spreading collective waistline is not just coincidence: It's a causal link. The direct effect of citizens spending more of their workdays at desks and more of their evenings sitting in front of a screen accounts for more than two-thirds of the observed growth in obesity, the study finds. The indirect effect of higher caloric consumption during engagement in screen-time activities, the authors maintain, accounts for the remaining third.
Included in the factors that seem to grow along with an economy's high-tech investments are many things that contribute to a population's fatness including technological innovations, the availability and market for more processed foods, the consumption of more snack food, less exercise, and more time spent sitting in front of a screen, said co-author Annusuya Chatterjee, an economist at the Milken Institute.