The answer to the mystery of the rising American obesity epidemic may be closer than ever imagined. In fact, research shows that we may have been sitting on the culprit all along: chairs.

Recent scientific research from the University of Missouri-Columbia, directed by lead scientist Marc Hamilton, found that sitting switches off the body's ability to burn fat. Tracing fat molecules through the body the research team found that they routed directly to adipose or fatty connective tissue for storage when test subjects were sitting. Additionally the team discovered that the enzyme Lipase, integral to the body's ability to dispose of fat, decreased to extremely low levels when test subjects were seated for several hours. This research showed directly the negative impact of remaining in an office chair throughout the day.

Conversely, when the test subjects were standing and in motion (as they would be on a treadmill desk) fat molecules passed through blood vessels located in muscle where they could be burned by the body for fuel and Lipase returned to normal levels. The long standing advice to take a walk after a meal now has scientific credence. More importantly staying active throughout the day keeps the body in top form.

Bottom line? Spending too much time in a chair leads to a greater retention of fat, lower levels of HDL (the good cholesterol) and a reduced metabolic rate. The cure sounds simple enough, stand up and move as much as possible during the day engaging the larger muscle groups of the back and legs. That poses a challenge for most people as simple as it seems since their work environments do not allow this. Treadmill desks are changing the paradigm however.

Is the sedentary nature of employment dooming the workforce to inescapably rising rates of obesity? "Two-thirds of the American population is now categorized as overweight according to the CDC with more than half of the population spending their working hours desk bound, strapped to a chair," states Steve Bordley, president of TrekDesk, a manufacturer of treadmill desks. "American adults on average weigh 25 pounds more today than they did in the 1960's but that does not mean this alarming trend must continue."

Treadmill desks allow employees to walk the entire work day or just enough to meet the minimum daily requirements set by the Surgeon General of 10,000 steps a day. More importantly treadmill desks offer an employee the opportunity of enhancing their overall health while completing work assignments.

"Too many Americans are struggling to provide for their families throughout their work career only to find that their health has been sacrificed in the process, it doesn't have to be that way," states Bordley, "treadmill desks allow them to increase their energy and productivity while working and restore their health at the same time."