A recent study suggests that sitting too much in front of the TV or computer may take its toll on your health later on. Researchers at Maastricht University, in the Netherlands, found that each extra hour spent sitting ups diabetes risk by 22 percent.
The research paper also suggests that too much sitting can also worsen metabolic syndrome and up mortality risk regardless of the physical activity one does. The new study confirms the findings of past research which had revealed that too much sitting could be considered ‘the new smoking.’
The latest research employed a smart gadget called the activPAL to track sitting patterns and the habit’s effects on subjects’ risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The device also recorded how frequent and for how long study participants took a break sat uninterruptedly.
Julianne van der Berg, lead author of the study, noted that past studies had also analyzed breaks between sitting bouts, and found that interrupting sitting time could tirgger some positive health outcomes. Yet, she explained that those studies only looked at health effects on the short term.
The new study involved nearly 2,500 people with the average age of 60 years. Study participants were asked to wear the activPAL for at least eight straight days. The small device can tell how sedentary a person really is by looking at their posture while sitting or reclining.
The research team also performed blood tests to monitor participants’ blood glucose levels. Additionally, volunteers were asked a series of questions including questions related to smoking, substance abuse education, and other conditions.
Researchers were also interested in the body mass index and data on prescription drugs.
Tests revealed that 55.9 percent of study participants had no problems in metabolizing glucose, while 28.6 percent had diabetes. The rest of participants had trouble in metabolizing glucose.
The tracker revealed that patients diagnosed with diabetes sat the longest, i.e. about 26 minutes more on average than the other two groups. Researchers adjusted the results for other factors that may lead to metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
In the end, the team found that every extra hour spent sitting upped diabetes risk by 22 percent and metabolic syndrome risk by nearly 40 percent. These results remained unchanged after adjusting for the number of breaks.
Nevertheless, study authors acknowledged that diabetes patients might have spent more time sitting because of their condition. But after removing patients on insulin, the results remained unaltered.
The study was published Tuesday in the journal Diabetologia.
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