Sedentary time could increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes
A Dutch study has found that for each hour spent sitting down, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases by 22%.
Using data from the Maastricht Study, a large cohort study carried out to look further into diabetes and its related diseases, researchers from Maastricht University in the Netherlands collected information on 2,497 participants (mean age 60) to research a possible link between sedentary time and diabetes.
To assess for diabetes and normal and impaired glucose metabolism, participants took an oral glucose tolerance test.
Of the 2,497 participants, 1,395 (56%) participants had a normal glucose metabolism, 388 (15%) had an impaired glucose metabolism and 714 (29%) had type 2 diabetes.
All participants were asked to wear an accelerometer, a device shown to be an accurate way of recording sedentary behavior by using data based on an individual’s posture, for 24 hours a day for 8 consecutive days.
The team used the readings to calculate participants’ daily amount of sedentary time, daily number of sedentary breaks, and number of prolonged sedentary periods (periods of 30 minutes or more), and the average duration of these sedentary periods.
Participants with type 2 diabetes spent the most time being sedentary, up to 26 more minutes per day more than other participants, with the researchers concluding that for every hour of additional sedentary time, the risk of diabetes rose by 22%.
However, the team didn’t find any significant relationship between diabetes status and the number of sedentary breaks, the number of prolonged sedentary periods or the average duration of these sedentary periods.
The team took into account the possibility that participants with type 2 diabetes who are on insulin medication could spend more time being sedentary because their diabetes is more severe.
However, even when these participants were excluded from the analysis, the results did not change.
“This may suggest that sedentary behavior at least partly preceded type 2 diabetes, as the associations were similar among participants who did not necessarily have to spend more time sedentary because of their health,” it concluded.
The team noted that although further research is needed to confirm their findings, they concluded that their “findings could have important implications for public health as they suggest that sedentary behavior may play a significant role in the development and prevention of type 2 diabetes, independent of high-intensity physical activity. Consideration should be given to including strategies to reduce the amount of sedentary time in diabetes prevention programs.”
The findings were published in the journal Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.