By now, we’re used to hearing Stephen Hawking warn us about global warming, outer space and artificial intelligence. But in his latest warning, he looked away from the cosmos and artificial life to tackle a very down-to-earth human problem: the global obesity epidemic.
In a video for GEN-PEP, a Swedish non-for-profit that aims to promote the health of children and young people, Stephen Hawking shared an urgent message about obesity. “At the moment, humanity faces a major challenge and millions of lives are in danger. As a cosmologist, I see the world as a whole and I am here to address one of the most serious public health problems of the 21st century.”
GEN-PEP also shares the same sense of urgency as Dr. Hawking. Their message is focused on children and young adults, 80% of which are not active enough to ensure proper health once they become adults. Dr. Hawking offers a simple solution to the problem, he says: “We eat too much and move too little. Fortunately, the solution is simple. More physical activity and a change in diet. It’s not rocket science.”
In their Facebook page announcing the collaboration with Dr. Hawking, GEN-PEP explained the reason for choosing him as their new spokesperson with the following message: “Help us spread the word about one of the greatest public health problems of our time by sharing this public statement from Professor Stephen Hawking, considered by many to be the smartest man alive and, according to us, has something to say on the matter.”
The message is a particularly strong one coming from Dr. Hawking. When he was 21-years-old, he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) which caused his muscles to stop working over time. At 74, he’s been unable to move, speak or eat on his own for the past 50 years.
He ended his message for GEN-PEP with a message that should encourage us all to be more thoughtful of how we treat our healthy bodies before it’s too late: “For what it’s worth,” says Dr. Hawking, “How being sedentary has became a major health problem…is beyond my understanding.”
The video ends with a short three sentence message by GEN-PEP, but one that contains the most important information: “Physical inactivity is now the world’s fourth leading cause of death. Required physical inactivity per day: adults 30 minutes. Children: 60 minutes.”