70,000 deaths linked to sitting down for six hours a day Watching TV while snacking increases risk of heart disease, diabetes


LONDON: A new study has shocked to those who sit for six hours a day for any reason and are contributing to the deaths of up to 70,000 people in the UK each year, a new study has found.  More desk time and increasingly sedentary lifestyles are leading to an increase in major health issues including type two diabetes, colon and lung cancers, and heart disease, according to research published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Around a third of British adults spend more than six hours sitting down each day, which contributes to an estimated one in nine deaths a year which equates to about 70,000 in total, the research concludes. Extra treatment for resulting instances of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other illnesses costs the NHS around £700 million a year according to the study. Although Public Health England sets this figure at £900 million.

The study, led by Leonie Heron of Queen’s University Belfast, calculated the health impacts of prolonged sedentary periods, and found that 17 per cent of diabetes, 8 per cent of lung cancer and 5 per cent of of heart disease cases could be prevented by spending less time sitting down.

Ms Heron said. “It suggests that it is bad for our health how our working lives are structured for a lot of people. You can attenuate that risk by being more active in your leisure time, but it’s something employers can look at.” She and her team of researchers recommend that office staff step away from their desks every hour, and that employers allow activity breaks.

Public Health England has already published recommendations that adults do at least 2.5 hours of moderate physical activity each week, such as brisk walking, cycling and yoga. “If physical activity was a drug it would be classed as a wonder drug,” the health body states in its 2016 Health Matters guidance.

This health guidance further emphasises the importance of cutting down on sitting down, noting: “Even among individuals who are active at the recommended levels, spending large amounts of time sedentary increases the risk of adverse health outcomes.”

Figures released by the Department of Health reveal people are in the UK are around 20% less active now than in the 1960s and estimate that if current trends continue, this will rise to 35% by 2030.

Watching TV

According to new research, teenagers who sit for hours watching TV, using the computer or playing video games while eating unhealthy snacks are at increased risk for heart diseases and diabetes. The research will be presented on Monday (March 25) at ENDO 2019, the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society, in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The study found that these teens are at risk of developing metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors including increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels that elevate the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

Metabolic syndrome affects near 25 per cent of the adult population and approximately 5.4 per cent of children and adolescents in the United States and other countries. “The take-home message is limiting your screen time is important, but when it is not possible, avoiding snack consumption may help you to reduce your risk of metabolic syndrome,” said lead researcher Beatriz Schaan.

The research was part of the Study on Cardiovascular Risks in Adolescents (ERICA), a nationwide school-based survey of Brazilian teens. The study included data on 33,900 teens ages 12 to 17. The researchers measured the teens’ waists and blood pressure and took blood samples to measure blood glucose, HDL-cholesterol, and triglycerides.

Almost 60 per cent of the teens were female, and the average age was 14.6. Half of the teens were physically active, 85 per cent said they usually eat snacks in front of the TV, while 64 per cent usually ate snacks while using the computer or playing video games.

The researchers found 2.5 per cent of the teens had metabolic syndrome. Those who spent six or more hours a day in front of screens were 71 per cent more likely to have metabolic syndrome compared with those who spent less time in front of screens. However, the heightened risk was only seen in those who reported usually eating snacks in front of screens.

There was no association between screen time and metabolic syndrome among teens who reported no snacking in front of screens. Among teens who reported habitually eating snacks in front of the TV or computer, the risk for metabolic syndrome rose the longer teens spent in front of screens.

“As we live surrounded by screens, especially young people, sometimes it is not feasible to eliminate or reduce screen time. In these cases, avoiding snack consumption may be easier. Beyond reducing screen time, interventions aiming to reduce snacking in front of screens among youth should be evaluated,” Schaan concluded. (ANI)