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Sitting boosts risk of chronic disease

26th February 2013

Sitting down for prolonged periods every day has been linked in a new study with heightened risk for chronic health problems, including diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

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Researchers from Australia and the United States have warned that people whose jobs force them to sit down for hours at a time, like drivers and office workers, could be at greater risk of health problems.

Sitting less and moving more is the answer to preventing such problems, they wrote in an online edition of the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.

According to Richard Rosenkranz, assistant professor of human nutrition at Kansas State University, people who are more physically active suffer from less chronic disease than those who are largely sedentary.
But sitting in particular is harmful, regardless of the amount of activity done overall, he said.
The researchers said that many office jobs could be hazardous to health.
The study questioned more than 63,000 Australian men from New South Wales, aged 45-65, about whether they suffered any chronic health problems, as well as the number of hours they spent every day in a sitting position.
The men who spent less than four hours a day in total sitting down were far less likely to report chronic health problems like high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer or diabetes.
The risk of diabetes rose significantly in people who spent more than six hours sitting down.
The relationship between chronic disease and sitting time increased proportionally, even when levels of physical activity, age, weight, height, income, and level of education were taken into account.
The highest-risk group were those who sat down for more than eight hours every day.
People who sat down but who were also active at other times were still at risk, Rosenkranz warned.
The researchers were unsure whether the health problems were leading people to sit for longer, or whether the sitting was causing the diseases in the first place.
A recent health poll by Harris Interactive/HealthDay showed that one in eight Americans has a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.
And one in three of those with diabetes also have a close relative with the condition.

Around 29 million American adults are now believed to have the condition, which develops unnoticed until full-blown symptoms prompt a diagnosis, experts warn.

 

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