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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Pittsburgh Finds Each Hour Watching TV Increases Diabetes Risk for Pre-diabetics

A well-known lifestyle intervention already proven to increase physical activity levels and decrease weight has now been shown to successfully reduce participants’ time spent sitting and watching television, a University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health analysis discovered.

The research, published by the European Association for the Study of Diabetes journal Diabetologia, also found that for each hour spent watching television daily, the risk of developing diabetes increases by 3.4 percent after controlling for other important risk factors.

“Less time spent watching TV per day over a three-year follow-up translated into a lower risk of developing diabetes, even after controlling for how much physical activity people were reporting,” said lead author Dr. Bonny Rockette-Wagner, director of physical activity assessment at Pitt Public Health.

This association was reduced to a 2.1 percent increased risk of developing diabetes per hour of watching TV, which was not statistically significant, when body weight was added to the model. This suggests that subsequent changes in body weight may account for some of the relationship between sitting behavior changes and diabetes development.

This investigation by Dr. Rockette-Wagner and her colleagues was part of the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), a clinical research trial funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The DPP had previously demonstrated in sites across the U.S. that people at risk for diabetes who lost weight and increased their physical activity levels sharply reduced their risk for diabetes and heart disease, outperforming people who took a diabetes drug when compared to placebo. The two lifestyle goals of the DPP were to achieve 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity activity, such as brisk walking, and a 7 percent weight loss. The main study results were published in 2002.

Dr. Rockette-Wagner, senior author Dr. Andrea Kriska, of Pitt Public Health, and their colleagues recently analyzed data from the DPP to determine whether the lifestyle intervention also reduced time spent sitting. Prior to the trial, watching television and sitting at work, combined, averaged nearly seven hours per day. People who participated in the lifestyle intervention arm of the trial reported reducing their combined television and work sitting time by 37 minutes per day, compared to a six-minute reduction in people taking the diabetes drug and a nine-minute reduction in people taking a placebo.

As a next step in the effort to determine the impact of decreasing sedentary behavior, Dr. Kriska and her colleagues at Pitt Public Health recently received a $3 million grant from the NIH to test the efficacy of a community-based lifestyle intervention program that focusses on encouraging sedentary, overweight adults to sit less.

For more information, visit http://www.upmc.com/media/NewsReleases/2015/Pages/rockette-kriska-television-diabetes.aspx.