Research Study Abstract

Sedentary activity associated with metabolic syndrome independent of physical activity.

  • Published on February 2011

Objective This study examined the association between objectively measured sedentary activity and metabolic syndrome among older adults.

Research Design & Methods Data were from 1,367 men and women, aged ≥ 60 years who participated in the 2003-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Sedentary time during waking hours was measured by an accelerometer (<100 counts per minute). A sedentary bout was defined as a period of time >5 min. A sedentary break was defined as an interruption in sedentary time (≥ 100 counts per minute). Metabolic syndrome was defined according to the Adult Treatment Panel (ATP) III criteria.

Results On average, people spent 9.5 h (65% of wear time) as sedentary. Compared with people without metabolic syndrome, people with metabolic syndrome spent a greater percentage of time as sedentary (67.3 vs. 62.2%), had longer average sedentary bouts (17.7 vs. 16.7 min), had lower intensity during sedentary time (14.8 vs. 15.8 average counts per minute), and had fewer sedentary breaks (82.3 vs. 86.7), adjusted for age and sex (all P < 0.01). A higher percentage of time sedentary and fewer sedentary breaks were associated with a significantly greater likelihood of metabolic syndrome after adjustment for age, sex, ethnicity, education, alcohol consumption, smoking, BMI, diabetes, heart disease, and physical activity. The association between intensity during sedentary time and metabolic syndrome was borderline significant.

Conclusions The proportion of sedentary time was strongly related to metabolic risk, independent of physical activity. Current results suggest older people may benefit from reducing total sedentary time and avoiding prolonged periods of sedentary time by increasing the number of breaks during sedentary time.


Diabetes Care


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