Another paper on the possible dangers of sitting this time in the BMJ – Open Access. The researchers undertook a meta-analysis. They collated and analysed data from a number of prospective cohort studies. In other words studies where the researchers had followed up a group of people. In these studies, subjects had self-reported the amount of time they had been sitting each day. The researchers found that sitting down for less than 3 hours a day was significantly associated with increased life expectancy compared to the group who sat on average for more than 3 hours a day. The paper includes the strengths and weaknesses of the study. There is also some commentary in the media. At NHS Choices, it is pointed out that many of the possible confounders were not accounted for. In other words there may be another explanation. People might be spending more time sitting because of factors which can reduce life expectancy.
There is more work to be done in this area but there is a narrative emerging. If these findings do hold out then there will need to be an important debate in society about how to reduce sitting behaviour or at least modify sitting behaviour if sitting is indeed found to be associated with health risks. For now though it will be interesting to see how the research community responds to these findings.
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