A team of scientists at Umeå University, in collaboration with colleagues in Melbourne, Australia, have found that television viewing and lack of exercise at age 16 is associated with the risk of developing metabolic syndrome at 43 years age.
Metabolic syndrome is a name for the disorder of metabolism - a combination of abdominal obesity, elevated blood lipids, hypertension and impaired glucose tolerance - which provides for a significantly increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, stroke and cardiovascular disease.
It has previously been shown that lack of physical activity increases the risk of metabolic syndrome. It is also known that low leisure-time physical activity, for example, how much time spent watching TV is linked to the risk of metabolic syndrome independent of exercise habits. The new research findings have now been able to show is that these relationships extend over a large part of life, specifically between 16 to 43 years of age. The study is published in the journal Diabetes Care and included 888 participants in northern Sweden who had been followed from 1981 when they were in ninth grade in elementary school, until 2008.
"The results demonstrate that we need to consider how we can reduce sedentary lifestyle among children and adolescents, "says the report's lead author, a general practitioner and Adjunct Professor Patrik Wennberg, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Umeå University. "It may be more important than only focusing on increased fitness and sports activities for those who are already interested."
Other participants in the study are Per Gustafsson, Maria Wennberg and Anne Hammarström, all at the same institution, Unit of General Practice, and David Dunstan at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, Melbourne.