Even more 'couch potatoes' in Brazil than in the United Statesbut theyre starting to move

People in the United States of America may have a reputation for being "couch potatoes," but the proportion of Brazilians who shun physical activity during their leisure time is far higher than in the United States, according to the results of a broad-based study recently published in a scientific journal.

The percentage of Brazilian adults not engaging in leisure-time physical activity on even one day of the week "appears to be two to three times as high as the figures reported for the United States of America and the European countries," according to an English-language article in the October 2003 issue of the "Revista Panamericana de Salud Pblica/Pan American Journal of Public Health." For leisure-time exercise or sports done on five or more days of the week, the pattern is similar, with a much higher proportion of Brazilians failing to reach that goal than is true for adults in the United States and Europe.

The study found that 13% of the Brazilians surveyed reported that they performed a minimum of 30 minutes of leisure-time physical activity on one or more days of the week. The 87% who did not reach that goal contrasts with the United States, where some 38% of the adults do not report any type of leisure-time physical activity at least once per week, and with Europe, where an estimated 32% do not achieve that minimal goal for physical activity.

In terms of accumulating at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days of the week, only 3.3% of the Brazilians surveyed reached that objective. That compares with a figure of 25.4% for adults in the United States in 1998, according to information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The data used for the analysis in Brazil came from that country's first-ever national household survey intended to assess levels of physical activity. The survey, the Living Standards Measurement Survey, was conducted from March 1996 to February 1997 by the

Contact: Bill Black
Pan American Health Organization

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