I have a job that makes me sit in front of the computer for hours. I would occasionally get up to use the loo but I don’t move around that much in the office. Even when I get home, I still spend a lot of time working on my laptop until I discovered the dangers of spending too much time sitting down. I have now decided to cut back on the hours I spend sitting in front of the computer.
For many people most of their average waking hours are spent sitting: watching television, working at a computer, commuting, or doing other physically inactive pursuits.
This type of lifestyle may be detrimental to health as a new study found people who spent a large amount of time sitting down had higher levels of visceral and total abdominal fat.
Visceral fat is unseen and it’s a form of gel-like fat that’s actually wrapped around major organs, including the liver, pancreas and kidneys.
The study published in the journal Obesity was carried out by a team of researchers from the NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre (a partnership between Leicester’s Hospitals, the University of Leicester and Loughborough University).
They looked at 124 participants who were at high risk of type 2 diabetes and measured the amount of time they spent sedentary, defined as any sitting/reclining activity with low energy expenditure.
Participants were asked to wear an accelerometer fitted to their waist over a seven-day period to measure the amount of time they spent sedentary, with the team measuring the amount of fat in the liver, the inner (visceral) and outer (subcutaneous) fat layers, and total abdominal fat using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) equipment.
The researchers found that the link between visceral fat and sitting down was strongest for those those who did not meet the public health recommendation of 150 weekly minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity.
Commenting on the findings lead author of the latest study, Dr Joe Henson said: ‘We know that spending long periods of time sedentary is unhealthy and a risk factor for chronic illnesses, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
‘Likewise, the amount of fat deposited around our internal organs may also predispose us to these diseases.’