Can your desk job contribute to an early death?

Sep 07, 2010 By Amy Sutton

If your job keeps you tied to your desk, you could count diabetes and an increased risk of death among your employment “benefits,” suggests a new review of existing research.

“Many adults in sedentary occupations spend more time sitting at work than they spend sitting in their leisure time,” said lead review author Jannique van Uffelen, Ph.D. “Sitting at work could affect health and for some people, current levels of leisure time may not be enough to offset these effects.”

Van Uffelen, a research fellow with the University of Queensland in Australia, and colleagues examined 43 studies that tracked sedentary time at work for more than 2 million employees.

Researchers examined the association of occupational inactivity’s with (BMI), cancer, heart disease, diabetes and mortality. They used both cross-sectional studies (performed at one time) and prospective studies (which follow participants over time)

The review appears online and in the October issue of the .

Jeffrey Harris, M.D., director of the University of Washington Health Promotion Research Center in Seattle, said that although the review was done carefully, the results do not paint a clear picture.

“Is it worth it for people to move from sitting to light activity at work? The answer out of the review is: We’re not sure,” Harris said. He was not affiliated with the review.

Van Uffelen noted that the authors expected to find studies linking sitting and obesity, since inactivity results in fewer calories burned. But only half of the cross-sectional studies found a higher BMI in inactive workers, and prospective studies did not confirm this finding at all, she said.

In other words, sitting does not necessarily cause high BMI or weight. It could be that people who have a high BMI sit more, van Uffelen said.

Four of six studies found an increased risk of death for sedentary workers, indicating a long-term health risk. Three of four studies also linked occupational sitting to a higher risk of diabetes, but there was no evidence sitting at work causes cancer or cardiovascular disease, the authors reported.

“We really do not know enough about this yet to be able to define how much sitting is too much, and if decreasing sitting time is associated with better health,” van Uffelen said.

“We are quite sure that moderate and vigorous activity are good for you and will reduce your risk of and your risk of death,” Harris said. “What is clear is that we need to move 30 minutes a day, whether that’s at work or at home.”

Explore further: Oil-swishing craze: Snake oil or all-purpose remedy?

More information: van Uffelen JGZ, et al. Occupational sitting and health risks: a systematic review. Am J Prev Med 39(4), 2010.

Source: Health Behavior News Science

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Study links more time spent sitting to higher risk of death

Jul 22, 2010

A new study from American Cancer Society researchers finds it's not just how much physical activity you get, but how much time you spend sitting that can affect your risk of death. Researchers say time spent sitting was independently ...

Light activity can help avoid chronic disease

Jun 12, 2007

Reducing time spent sitting and increasing light physical activity has important health benefits that may reduce the risk of diabetes and other cardiovascular diseases.

Sedentary TV time may cut life short

Jan 11, 2010

Couch potatoes beware: every hour of television watched per day may increase the risk of dying earlier from cardiovascular disease, according to research reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Sedentary teens more likely to have higher blood pressure

Feb 05, 2007

Teenagers who spend a lot of time planted in front of the TV are more likely to have higher blood pressure, regardless of whether they are overweight. "This is the first research to show a direct and independent connection ...

Recommended for you

Suddenly health insurance is not for sale

21 hours ago

(HealthDay)— Darlene Tucker, an independent insurance broker in Scotts Hill, Tenn., says health insurers in her area aren't selling policies year-round anymore.

Study: Half of jailed NYC youths have brain injury (Update)

21 hours ago

About half of all 16- to 18-year-olds coming into New York City's jails say they had a traumatic brain injury before being incarcerated, most caused by assaults, according to a new study that's the latest in a growing body ...

Autonomy and relationships among 'good life' goals

Apr 18, 2014

Young adults with Down syndrome have a strong desire to be self-sufficient by living independently and having a job, according to a study into the meaning of wellbeing among young people affected by the disorder.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Treating depression in Parkinson's patients

A group of scientists from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging has found interesting new information in a study on depression and neuropsychological function in Parkinson's ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...