Increasing physical activity may not be enough to prevent diabetes, according to a recent study linking too much sitting time to increased risk for type 2 diabetes.
Published in the European journal Diabetologia, this study is the largest of its kind to objectively analyze sitting time and diabetes risk. In recent years, a number of studies have linked sedentary time to diabetes, heart disease and other serious conditions. However, most relied on self-reported data when it came to sedentary time, which is not always reliable.
To learn more, researchers used accelerometers to track the physical activity of nearly 2,500 adults from the Netherlands. Accelerometers are small, lightweight devices that can be worn to track an individual’s movement.
Upon enrollment, participants underwent a simple glucose tolerance test to assess diabetes status. Using this test, researchers could determine whether a patient had diabetes, prediabetes or normal blood sugar. Participants then wore accelerometers for eight full days to track both physical activity and sedentary time.
After analysis, researchers found that each additional hour of sedentary time was associated with a 22% increase in risk for type 2 diabetes. Each extra hour of sedentary time was also associated with 39% greater risk for metabolic syndrome—a dangerous clustering of risk factors that increases risk for heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
According to authors, this is the largest study to objectively measure the association between diabetes and sitting time. Like other studies, findings suggest that sitting time plays a major role in risk for type 2 diabetes.
As a result, authors believe that in addition to increasing physical activity, limiting sedentary time is an important way to reduce risk for type 2 diabetes. However, researchers encourage long-term studies to better understand the role of sedentary time on future risk for diabetes and chronic diseases.