Prolonged periods of sitting may increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes in women, a new study finds.
In the study, a woman's likelihood of having risk factors for diabetes, such as insulin resistance and chronic inflammation, increased with the more time she spent sitting. No such link was found in men.
Even women who engaged in moderate or vigorous physical activity were at an increased risk for early signs of diabetes if they also were also sedentary for prolonged periods, the study found.
"If these results are replicated, they have implications for lifestyle recommendations, public health policy, and health behavior change interventions, as they suggest that enabling women to spend less time sitting is an important factor in preventing chronic disease," the researchers wrote in the January issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
Thomas Yates, of the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom, and colleagues analyzed information from about 500 people living in the U.K. who attended a diabetes screening program. Participants reported how much time they spent sitting on a weekday in the last seven days. The researchers collected blood samples to test for diabetes risk factors.
On average, women said they spent five hours a day sitting, while men said they spent six hours a day sitting.
For women, prolonged sitting was linked with insulin resistance and high levels of markers of inflammation, including c-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6 (IL-6).
The strength of the association decreased when the researchers took into account the women's body mass index (BMI), indicating that obesity might explain part of the link. The researchers said it may be that hormones released from fat tissue are detrimental to the body's metabolism.
The study was limited in that participants reported their own sitting time, which may not be accurate and could affect the results, the researchers said..