Stephen Hawking PSA Highlights Chronic Health Risks From Obesity

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 30: Stephen Hawking makes an appearance to show support for the Breathe On UK charity at on April 30, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by John Phillips/UK Press via Getty Images)

Stephen Hawking is speaking out against a lack of physical activity among Americans. The world-renowned cosmologist took part in a PSA advocating for more exercise among children and adults in order to help reduce the trend of chronic illness and disease.

In the ad campaign for Swedish nonprofit GEN-PEP, Hawking referred to obesity as “the most serious public health program of the 21st century.” Hawking told viewers it was important to modify their diet and exercise more in order to avoid the chronic diseases that come from obesity. The ad also included written statements such as “physical inactivity is now the world’s fourth leading cause of death.” It also provided recommend daily amounts of activity for adults (30 minutes) and children (60 minutes).

“Today, too many people die from complications related to overweight and obesity. We eat too much and move too little,” said Hawking. “For what it’s worth, how being sedentary has been a major health problem is beyond my understanding.”

The American Family Medical Association formally voted in June 2013 to classify obesity “as a disease requiring a range of medical interventions.” They also linked it to a range of illnesses including cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.

Perhaps surprisingly, only seven percent of respondents in a January 2013 were unaware of the link between obesity and cancer, while only five percent knew losing weight could help reduce or even eliminate symptoms of sleep apnea.

Watch the full GEN-PEP ad here.