130402_CCF_HeadlineImage_JudgeGavelWhile anti-food activists continue to push unscientific and self-serving claims indicting specific foods as the biggest culprit for obesity, we’ve continually sought to highlight the other, often forgotten side of the equation: physical activity and exercise. But since exercise involves personal responsibility and effort, it’s a message that many don’t want to hear, preferring instead to spend their money and time peddling scares about the latest fat-causing food du jour.

But a new Stanford study published yesterday in The American Journal of Medicine is difficult to ignore. Based on an analysis of the National Health and Nutrition Survey, it finds that sedentary lifestyles and not calories are to blame for obesity.

Specifically, the authors find that over the last 20 years, the number of people reporting no physical activity in their free time has increased around three-fold to almost half the population. Meanwhile, total daily calorie, fat, carbohydrate, and protein consumption have not changed significantly (despite what activists would have you believe).

“Our findings do not support the popular notion that the increase of obesity in the United States can be attributed primarily to sustained increase over time in the average daily caloric intake of Americans,” wrote study author Dr. Uri Ladabaum.

This finding builds on an extensive but often unreported body of scientific literature that points to exercise and not diet as the culprit for obesity. For example, a recent Centers for Disease Control study found that nearly 80 percent of Americans were not achieving the necessary standard of exercise.

Nutrition nags consistently eschew this science in favor of often downright bizarre (we’re looking at you Dr. Robert “sugar is cocaine” Lustig) narratives that are better for their media hits and bottom lines. Maybe we should give them a little credit, though—running their mouths so much surely burns some calories.