The risk of developing type 2 diabetes among overweight adults increases with every hour spent watching television, a new study suggests.
The impact of sedentary behaviour – any time a person is sitting or lying down – was investigated by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, United States.
Previous studies have suggested sedentary behaviour is a potential risk factor for type 2 diabetes, and can negatively impact health factors such as body weight and diet.
Studying sedentary behaviour
The researchers recruited 3,234 overweight adults between 1996 and 1999. All the participants were 25 or older and spent an average of two hours and 20 minutes each day watching TV.
They were assigned into one of three groups; a metformin drug group, a lifestyle intervention group and a placebo group – to assess which group method best delayed or prevented type 2 diabetes.
In the lifestyle invention group, participants were required to lose seven per cent of their weight through 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week.
In this group, participants watched TV for 37 minutes less per day, on average. However, in the placebo group, the average was nine minutes less and six minutes less in the drug group.
Increased diabetes risk
The researchers concluded that the risk of developing type 2 diabetes increased by roughly 3.4 per cent for each hour spent watching TV. This was regardless of which group participants were in.
“Future lifestyle intervention programmes should emphasise reducing television watching and other sedentary behaviours in addition to increasing physical activity,” the researchers noted.
Senior author Dr Andrea Kriska, from the University of Pittsburgh added: “These results should inform future intervention efforts that already focus on goals of increasing activity and reducing weight to also consider emphasising sitting less.”
The results of this study were published in the journal Diabetologia.

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