Hong Kongers are the most active people in the world, according to data collected from more than 700,000 mobile phones worldwide.
Utilizing anonymous data from the Argus activity monitoring app, Stanford University found that Hong Kongers topped the world, registering an average of 6,880 steps per day compared to the global average of 4,961 daily steps.
The app, created by health and fitness developer Azumio, collects data from in-built accelerometers – devices that measure acceleration – in most mobile phones.
A report published by the university showed that China and Japan were also highly active societies, with the average number of daily steps at 6,189 and 6,010 respectively. Indonesia was observed to be the most sedentary society of those surveyed, with its people taking only 3,513 steps on average each day.
The activity level of people in Macau was not included in the report due to an insufficient sample size, one of the report’s authors told the Times.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough data (yet) on Macau to draw statistically valid conclusions,” said Tim Althoff. “As more and more people own smartphones, and use them for activity tracking, we expect this to change in the future.”
The findings are being linked to the global epidemic of obesity – or “globesity” as the World Health Organization sometimes calls it – and researchers hope this information can help inform decision-makers in the areas of public health policy and urban planning.
The report affirmed a predictable conclusion: there is a strong, inverse correlation between the average number of daily steps of a society and the prevalence of obesity.
However, how that activity is distributed appears to be a much more accurate predictor of obesity, researchers said. Coining the term “activity inequality,” the researchers found a notable difference between the daily activity of men and women in those countries with an obesity epidemic, such as the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.
“Just like income inequality measures the gap between rich and poor in terms of their income, activity inequality measures the gap between ‘activity rich’ and ‘activity poor’ in terms of their average physical activity levels,” said Althoff.
“In countries where obesity is a bigger problem, the [activity inequality] gap was bigger and [as a result,] there are some people that get way more activity than others, and some that get way less activity than others,” he added.
In contrast, both sexes were equally as active in countries with low levels of obesity, such as Japan.
“Reduced activity in females contributes to a large portion of the observed activity inequality,” the report stated. “When activity inequality is greatest, women’s activity is reduced much more dramatically than men’s activity, and thus the negative connections to obesity can affect women more greatly.”
Average number of daily steps by society