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Lipids. 2003 Feb;38(2):103-8.

Sedentary lifestyle and risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

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  • 1Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Obesity and type 2 diabetes have reached epidemic proportions in the United States. It is well-established that increasing physical activity plays an important role in reducing risk of obesity and diabetes. Few studies, however, have examined the association between sedentary behaviors such as prolonged television (TV) watching and obesity and diabetes. Using data from a large prospective cohort study, the Health Professionals' Follow-up Study, we have demonstrated that increasing TV watching is strongly associated with obesity and weight gain, independent of diet and exercise. Also, prolonged TV watching is associated with a significantly increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Men who watched TV more than 40 h per week had a nearly threefold increase in the risk of type 2 diabetes compared with those who spent less than 1 h per week watching TV. The increased risk was not entirely explained by the decreased physical activity and unhealthy eating patterns associated with TV watching. Thus, public health campaigns to reduce the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes should promote not only increasing exercise levels but also decreasing sedentary behaviors, especially prolonged TV watching.

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