Sitting may make you fat on the inside too!

Over the last decade, sedentary behaviour or sitting time has emerged as a distinctive health behaviour concept, showing strong associations with the risk of disease and death rates, independent of other lifestyle behaviours, such as physical activity.

Despite the well-documented positive effects of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) on regional fat deposition, the associative role of sedentary behaviour, independent of physical activity, is less well understood. Therefore, we examined the cross-sectional associations (carried out at one time point) between objectively measured sedentary time and markers of regional fat distribution heart, liver, visceral (inner fat), subcutaneous (outer fat) and total body fat in a population at a high risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM).

Sedentary time was measured using Actigraph GT3X accelerometers and heart, liver, visceral, subcutaneous and total body fat values were quantified using magnetic resonance images (MRI). We looked at 66 participants and found that when we accounted for several factors, including glycaemia, whole body fat and MVPA levels, sedentary time was associated with higher heart fat, higher liver fat and higher visceral fat.

Therefore, this study provides new evidence suggesting that objectively measured sedentary behaviour may have an independent association upon heart, liver and visceral fat in individuals at a high risk of T2DM.