Disentangling the relationship between sedentariness and obesity: Activity intensity, but not sitting posture, is associated with adiposity in women

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Anna Myers
  • Catherine Gibbons
  • Edward Butler
  • Michelle Dalton
  • Nicola Buckland
  • John Blundell
  • Graham Finlayson
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-119
Number of pages7
JournalPhysiology & Behavior
Early online date8 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018
Background: The relationship between free-living sedentary behaviour (SB) and obesity is unclear. Studies may arrive at disparate conclusions because of inconsistencies and limitations when defining and measuring free-living SB. The aim of this cross-sectional study was to examine whether the relationship between SB and adiposity differed depending on the way SB was operationally defined and objectively measured. Methods: Sixty-three female participants aged 37.1 years (SD = 13.6) with a body mass index (BMI) of 29.6 kg/m2 (SD = 4.7) had their body composition measured (BodPod, Concord, CA) then were continuously monitored for 5–7 days with the SenseWear Armband (SWA; sleep and activity intensity) and the activPAL (AP; posture). Data from both activity monitors were analysed separately and integrated resulting in a third measure of SB (activity intensity and posture; SEDINT). SB outputs were compared according to week or weekend day averages then correlated against body composition parameters after adjusting for moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA). Results: SEDSWA resulted in the most sedentary time 11.74 h/day (SD = 1.60), followed by SEDAP 10.16 h/day (SD = 1.75) and SEDINT 9.10 h/day (SD = 1.67). There was a significant positive association between SEDSWA and body mass [r(61) = 0.29, p =.02], BMI [r (61) = 0.33, p =.009] and fat mass [r(61) = 0.32, p =.01]. SEDAP and SEDINT were not associated with any of the indices of adiposity. Correlations between SB and adiposity were non-significant when controlling for MVPA. Conclusions: The relationship between SB and adiposity differed depending on how SB was operationally defined and measured, and was dependent on MVPA. The definition of SB based on a sitting posture (SEDAP) was not strongly related to body fat, whereas the accumulation of any behaviour (sitting or standing) with an intensity of <1.5 METs (SEDSWA) (offset by the presence of MVPA) was positively associated with indices of adiposity. These data suggest that the postural element of SB (sitting) is not sufficient for the accumulation of adiposity, rather activities requiring low EE (<1.5 METs) and the absence of MVPA, regardless of posture, are associated with higher fat mass.

    Research areas

  • Activity intensity, Adiposity, Measurement, Posture, Sedentary behaviour, Sitting

Related faculties, schools or groups

External organisations

  • Sheffield Hallam University
  • University of Leeds
  • Endava
  • University of Sheffield

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