Sedentary Behaviors Lead to Diabetes (and Obesity): Can 50,000 RNs Be Wrong?

Topics: Wellness and Health
Dr John La Puma

Obesity research is the theme issue for JAMA this month, and it’s great! Finally, some serious science to why and how we’re gaining weight and getting more diabetes.

For more than 50,000 women in the Harvard-based, 2 decade long Nurses’ Health Study, each two hours of increased TV watching was associated with a 23% more obesity and 14% more diabetes. Across the board.

Why? Because TV displaces activity; it encourages eating; it allows you to ignore how much is in front of you and how much is gone when you look up.

Sitting at work increased diabetes and obesity by 5%, and driving by 7%—versus standing or walking around the home, associated with a 9 percent reduction in obesity and a 12 percent drop in diabetes. Diabetes is preventable: use a pedometer to measure your steps: simple, cheap and effective.

Now most of us have to sit at work and drive to get there. But what if we didn’t, or took breaks more often, or deliberately walked somewhere we might ordinarily drive to? Every step counts!

In this study, 30% of the obese nurses, and 43% of the nurses with diabetes could have prevented their diseases–by watching fewer than 10 hours of TV weekly and instead, walking more than 30 minutes daily at 3.5 miles per hour or greater. Just do it!