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Eur Heart J. 2011 Mar;32(5):590-7. doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehq451. Epub 2011 Jan 11.

Sedentary time and cardio-metabolic biomarkers in US adults: NHANES 2003-06.

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  • 1Cancer Prevention Research Centre, School of Population Health, The University of Queensland, Herston, QLD 4006, Australia.



Prolonged sedentary time is ubiquitous in developed economies and is associated with an adverse cardio-metabolic risk profile and premature mortality. This study examined the associations of objectively assessed sedentary time and breaks (interruptions) in sedentary time with continuous cardio-metabolic and inflammatory risk biomarkers, and whether these associations varied by sex, age, and/or race/ethnicity.


Cross-sectional analyses with 4757 participants (≥ 20 years) from the 2003/04 and 2005/06 US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). An Actigraph accelerometer was used to derive sedentary time [< 100 counts per minute (cpm)] and breaks in sedentary time. Independent of potential confounders, including moderate-to-vigorous exercise, detrimental linear associations (P for trends < 0.05) of sedentary time with waist circumference, HDL-cholesterol, C-reactive protein, triglycerides, insulin, HOMA-%B, and HOMA-%S were observed. Independent of potential confounders and sedentary time, breaks were beneficially associated with waist circumference and C-reactive protein (P for trends <0.05). There was limited evidence of meaningful differences in associations with biomarkers by age, sex, or race/ethnicity. Notable exceptions were sex-differences in the associations of sedentary time and breaks with HDL-cholesterol, and race/ethnicity differences in the association of sedentary time with waist circumference with associations detrimental in non-Hispanic whites, null in Mexican Americans, and beneficial in non-Hispanic blacks.


These are the first population-representative findings on the deleterious associations of prolonged sedentary time with cardio-metabolic and inflammatory biomarkers. The findings suggest that clinical communications and preventive health messages on reducing and breaking up sedentary time may be beneficial for cardiovascular disease risk.

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