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Watching Television Increases Risk of T2D

The lower the level of sedentary time, the lower the risk of developing diabetes…

Sedentary behavior such as watching TV, using the computer, and sitting during commuting and working are potential risk factor for diabetes. Previous studies have used lifestyle interventions such as weight loss, dietary changes, and physical activity, but none have examined the effect of sedentary time. Researchers for the Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group examined the effect of sedentary time on diabetes development.

A total of 3,234 overweight participants with prediabetes in 27 clinical centers in the US participated in the study. Subjects were divided into 3 groups: (1) lifestyle intervention group, which received intensive training in diet, physical activity, and behavior modification; (2) metformin group, which took metformin 850 mg twice daily; (3) placebo group, received placebo pills instead of metformin twice daily. Both the metformin and placebo group received diet and exercise information, but no intensive motivation counseling. Although sedentary time was not the primary goal of the intervention, subjects were encouraged to limit sedentary behavior. Weight was collected at baseline and semi-annually; incidents of diabetes were evaluated annually with OGTT and semi-annually with FBG levels (which was then confirmed within 6 weeks). Self reported physical activity and sedentary inactivity was collected at baseline and annually with the Modifiable Activity Questionnaire; sedentary time was determined as time spent watching TV and sitting at work on a daily average.

The results showed a significantly increased risk of developing diabetes with increased TV viewing. The risk of developing diabetes increased ~3.4% for each hour spent watching TV in all treatment group. The study also looked at a combination of TV viewing and sitting at work; the risk of developing diabetes was weaker, but similar to that of watching TV alone. The results showed that the lower the level of sedentary time, the lower the risk of developing diabetes.

The authors recommend that future lifestyle intervention programs should emphasize reducing sedentary behaviors in addition to increasing physical activity. The DPP study showed that the lifestyle intervention group resulted in increases in leisure physical activity and had a positive impact on sedentary behavior. Independent of physical activity level, sedentary time was related to diabetes incidence; the results suggest that improvements in sedentary time may help reduce the incidence of diabetes in individuals who are at high risk for developing the disease. One limitation of this study is that it did not evaluate all sedentary behavior, just TV watching and sitting while working; therefore, more studies are need to validate these findings.

Practice Pearls:

  • Sedentary behavior like watching TV and sitting while working can increase your risk of developing diabetes.
  • The risk of developing diabetes is increase ~3.4% for each hour spent watching TV.
  • Future lifestyle intervention programs should emphasize weight loss, dietary changes, physical activity, and reducing sedentary behavior.

Rockette-Wagner. The impact of lifestyle intervention on sedentary time in individuals at high risk of diabetes. Diabetologia 03 March 2015.