A new study recently published in the journal Diabetologia revealed that a sedentary lifestyle is linked to an increased risk of developing diabetes in overweight individuals. The study is entitled “The impact of lifestyle intervention on sedentary time in individuals at high risk of diabetes.”
The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) is a multicenter clinical research study conducted between 1996 and 1999 that compared two different interventions and a placebo group with the goal of reducing the risk of developing diabetes. One intervention was based on modest weight loss through a lifestyle change based on diet and increased physical activity, while the other one was based on treatment with the diabetes drug metformin. Participants were all at high risk of diabetes being overweight, with high blood sugar levels and having insulin resistance. Researchers found that individuals who experience a modest weight loss through a lifestyle intervention had a significant reduction (58%) in the likelihood of developing diabetes compared to the control group. Individuals under metformin treatment also reduced the risk of developing diabetes although less dramatically (31%).
In the present study, researchers assessed data from the DPP research study to assess whether the lifestyle intervention (including increased physical activity) also had an impact on the time spent by the individuals in sedentary periods and its possible link to diabetes development.
Researchers analyzed data from 3,232 DPP participants. Sedentary behavior was evaluated through a questionnaire specifically focused on the time spent watching television or in combination with sitting at work.
The research team found that individuals in the lifestyle intervention group watched less television and had a reduced sedentary behavior in comparison to participants under metformin treatment or in the placebo group. Researchers also found a correlation between diabetes risk and the time spent watching television, where the diabetes risk was estimated to increase by 2.1% per each hour spent watching television after adjusting the results for age, sex, physical activity and weight.
The authors concluded that sedentary behavior is linked to a higher risk for diabetes development and suggest that lifestyle intervention programs should highlight the importance of reducing the time spent watching television and other similar sedentary behaviors while encouraging an increase in physical activity.
The study has however been criticized, as reported in a news release, due to its limitations, suggesting that the results may not be reliable as other risk factors were not taken into account, namely smoking, family history of diabetes or the use of other medications. Furthermore, all participants were at a high risk of developing diabetes and do not represent the general population.