Every extra hour of inactivity in the course of a week can increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes by more than a fifth, a Dutch study has found.
Researchers used a wearable device that detects movement to show a strong association between sedentary lifestyle and diabetes in 2497 volunteers with an average age of 60.
Participants wore the accelerometer strapped to their thighs for 24 hours a day for eight consecutive days.
The results showed that those with Type 2 diabetes – 29 per cent of the total – were also the most inactive.
They spent up to 26 more minutes per day in sedentary situations, for instance sitting at a computer, than participants with impaired or normal sugar metabolism.
Statistically, every additional hour of sedentary time raised the risk of being diabetic by 22 per cent, the study revealed.
The authors, led by Julianne van der Berg, from Maastricht University in the Netherlands, concluded: “Our findings could have important implications for public health as they suggest that sedentary behaviour may play a significant role in the development and prevention of Type 2 diabetes.
“Consideration should be given to including strategies to reduce the amount of sedentary time in diabetes prevention programmes.”
The researchers, whose results appear in the journal Diabetologia, looked at the possibility that people with diabetes are only less active because of their ill health.
They found that when participants on insulin medication, who could be considered seriously ill, were excluded from the analysis the results remained the same.
“This may suggest that sedentary behaviour at least partly preceded Type 2 diabetes,” they wrote.