Chris and his mother Elke Simonsen, of West Hempstead, take...

Chris and his mother Elke Simonsen, of West Hempstead, take a walk together at Jones Beach State Park. Credit: Chris Ware

Is a person shaped more by genetics or by environmental factors?

The nature vs. nurture debate has yet to be settled, but when it comes to shaping a person's shape, there's no debate about watching vs. walking.

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health found that people can cut their genetic tendency toward obesity in half by simply taking a one-hour brisk walk every day. On the other hand, those who watched television for four or more hours a day while living a sedentary lifestyle raised their genetic predisposition toward obesity by 50 percent. The government says that people 60 and older are more likely to be obese than the rest of the population.

The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, was presented at an recent American Heart Association scientific conference.