Sustained sitting time in the chair and decreased physical activity further the prevalence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in a study of middle-aged Koreans. This evidence supports the importance of decreasing time spent sitting and increasing physical activity, says researchers. The results are published in the Journal of Hepatology.
Physical activity is known to decrease the prevalence and mortality of various chronic diseases. This underscores the fact that one-half of the average person’s waking day is comprised of sedentary activities connected with prolonged sitting such as watching TV, using a computer and other devices.
Of late, attention has focused on the damaging effects of sedentary behavior in spite of additional physical activity. A growing number of epidemiologic[i] studies have suggested a connection between sedentary behavior and chronic diseases. These include obesity, diabetes, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and even death that are clearly different from those related to a lack of physical activity. This connection was seen among individuals participating in high levels of average to energetic physical activity. This association indicates frequent physical activity does not fully protect against the risks found with prolonged periods of sedentary behaviors. The connection between physical activity and NAFLD has been largely unexamined.
“In the current study researchers examined the association of sitting time and physical activity level with NAFLD in Korean men and women to explore whether any observed associations was related to the amount of body fat. They studied records of nearly 140,000 Koreans who underwent a health examination between March 2011 and December 2013. Physical activity level and sitting time were assessed using the Korean version of the international Physical Activity Questionnaire Short Form. The presence of fatty liver was determined using ultrasonography” (Elsevier, 2015).
Of the people studied, nearly 40,000 had NAFLD. Significantly, the investigators discovered that sustained sitting time and lack of physical activity were independently connected with increasing frequency of NAFLD. Worth noting, these connections were also seen in individuals with a body mass index (BMI) of less than 23[ii].
Lead researcher Seungho Ryu, PhD, MD, of the Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Kangbuk Samsung Hospital, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, South Korea, explained, “We found that prolonged sitting time and decreased physical activity level were positively associated with the prevalence of NAFLD in a large sample of middle-aged Koreans.” Co-author
Yoosoo Chang, MD, Ph.D., added; “Our findings suggest that both increasing participation in physical activity and reducing sitting time may be independently important in reducing the risk of NAFLD, and underlines the importance of reducing time spent sitting in addition to promoting physical activity.”
“The data from Ryu and colleagues add to the strong and alarming evidence that sitting too much and moving too little has significant negative consequences for cardio-metabolic health,” said Michael I. Trenell, PhD, Professor of Metabolism & Lifestyle Medicine at Newcastle University, UK, and an authority on how lifestyle affects lifelong health, wellbeing, and chronic disease.
“The message is clear; our chairs are slowly but surely killing us. Our body is designed to move and it is not surprising that sedentary behavior, characterized by low muscle activity, has a direct impact on physiology[iii].
With a dearth of approved drug therapies for NAFLD, lifestyle changes remain the cornerstone of clinical care. The challenge for us now is to ‘stand up’ and move for NAFLD, both physically and metaphorically,” Professor Trenell added.
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[i] Epidemiologic, adj. epidemiology the formal study of health event patterns in a population, their causes, and means of prevention.
[ii] A body mass index of 23 represents an individual of average build and average weight
[iii]Physiology aims to understand the mechanisms of living – how living things work. Human physiology studies how our cells, muscles, and organs work together.
Elsevier. (2015, September 15). “Our Chairs Are Killing Us,” Say Researchers. Retrieved September 16, 2015, from Journal of Hepatology: http://www.journal-of-hepatology.eu/pb/assets/raw/Health%20Advance/journals/jhepat/JHEPNov15PRRyuFINAL.pdf
Ryu, S., & Chang, Y. (2015, August 19). Sedentary behaviour, physical activity, and NAFLD: Curse of the chair, Full text corrected proof. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhep.2015.08.009
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