Farmer Sitting at the Fireside and Reading

Maintaining a Lower Weight with Fewer Hours Sitting

It’s pretty clear that spending a lot of time sitting isn’t helpful. Heart and metabolic health takes a hit. Weight tends to accumulate. Also clear is the fact that people who succeed in losing and keeping weight off tend to spend less time sitting and watching TV. Now data from 4,305 individuals in WW tells us that the issue is more than just TV. In fact, people who successfully maintain a lower weight spend three fewer hours sitting per day compared to people with obesity who have neither lost nor gained weight.

But the question remains, is sitting time an artifact in this situation? Or is it something that people can change to help them maintain a healthier weight status?

Sitting Time Rising with Obesity

Sedentary time is going up. More people are spending long stretches of time sitting at work. Despite good evidence that Americans need more – not less – physical activity, the trend is going in the opposite direction. We spend more time staring at glowing rectangles for both work and pleasure.

During the pandemic, some reports suggest sedentary time has gone up even more. One survey showed a surprising four-hour increase in daily sitting time. More rigorous studies have been less dramatic. But nonetheless they support the view that people spent more time sitting in the year of pandemic restrictions.

These increases in sitting time run in parallel with rises in obesity prevalence.

Interventions for Sitting Time?

One big question remains. Will programs that aim to cut the hours people spend sitting actually help them maintain a healthier body weight? In the paper about WW members, James Roake and colleagues sum it up:

“Current behavioral weight-loss interventions tend to target a reduction in time spent watching TV. Future interventions to promote weight maintenance should consider targeting a reduction in more passive forms of sedentary behavior, including non-work-related computer and video game usage.

“Future research should include objective measures of sedentary behavior and activity and test the efficacy of interventions that target a reduction in sedentary time in addition to healthy eating and sustained physical activity as a means to help promote long-term weight-loss maintenance.”

It might be that less time sitting is an effect of maintaining a healthier weight. Or perhaps sitting less is an essential behavior for maintaining that lower weight. This is a research question that demands attention.

Click here for the study by Roake et al in Obesity, here and here for further perspective.

Farmer Sitting at the Fireside and Reading, painting by Vincent van Gogh / WikiArt

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May 26, 2021

One Response to “Maintaining a Lower Weight with Fewer Hours Sitting”

  1. May 26, 2021 at 11:34 am, ANGELA GOLDEN said:

    I love the idea of using such a large database of people using a self treatment strategy like WW to help us learn more. The idea of more reseach about sitting is such a good one. As many of us in outpatient healthcare have moved to more telehealth our time sitting has increased as well – I use a desk cycle to at least be moving while I sit but would love to have the data that this makes any difference LOL.

    Thanks as always Ted, for bring the information to us and reminding us to stay curious about the next question in line.

    Angie Golden, Nurse Pracititoner