Sedentary time, like time spent sitting in front of the TV or computer, has been linked to increased risk for many serious conditions. According to a study recently published in the medical journal Diabetologia, each hour spent watching TV increases risk of diabetes.
This study analyzed data from the Diabetes Prevention Program, which successfully used a lifestyle intervention to help overweight individuals reduce risk of diabetes. Although the intervention was designed to help adults increase physical activity and lose weight, experts wondered whether it had any impact on the amount of sedentary time. Studies suggest that limiting periods of inactivity is important for good health.
More than 3,200 overweight U.S. adults participated in the Diabetes Prevention Program study and were randomly assigned to the lifestyle intervention or standard care. During the three-year study, participants completed questionnaires and reported the amount of time spent sitting in front of the TV or at work.
In addition to increasing their physical activity levels, participants in the lifestyle intervention group decreased their TV watching by 22 minutes a day compared to those in the standard care group. Overall, each hour spent sitting at work or in front of the TV increased risk of developing diabetes by 3.4%.
Although the intervention was not designed to reduce sedentary time, findings are encouraging. Increasing physical activity and limiting sedentary time are two important ways to improve health and reduce risk for chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. This study suggests that not only does a simple lifestyle intervention help achieve both these goals, but reducing time spent watching TV can significantly reduce risk of developing diabetes.