Can sitting cause Type 2 diabetes?

As reported by Diabetes Health based on a news agency report on research at an Israeli university, it may be thatone of the last things we want to hear where most of us work seated at a desk or table, is that the way we work is probably contributing to the current epidemic obesity.

Researchers at Tel Aviv University’s Department of Biomedical Engineering think that their insight into fat cell mechanics may open the door for therapies designed to reduce body fat. When fat cells are subjected to sustained pressure, they develop more fat. So-called ‘cellular expansion,’ which basically centres on your backside, most often comes from sitting for long periods of time. The resulting chronic pressure leads to an increase in lipid droplets and molecules that carry fats. The fat cells expand by as much as 50%, becoming stiffer and crowding out and deforming nearby cells. In many cases, the increase in fat cell size and form can set a person on the road to obesity and the possibility of Type 2 diabetes.

In the UK a campaign is currently running which is alerting people to the dangers and encouraging them to do more exercise. Research has shown that even if you spend an hour every night in the gym, prolonged periods of inactivity are still bad for your health. The way the body deals with sugars and fats when sitting down has been linked to increased risk of diabetes and heart disease, and with some people now sitting for 12 hours a day, whether at work, watching TV or in a car, we are the most sedentary humans in history and we are literally sitting on a time bomb (though with the current obesity statistics, it’s already gone off).

If you sit for more than 23 hours per week you are 64% more likely to die of heart disease. However, the constant muscle activity of standing allows the body to keep blood sugar levels stable, which is proven to help maintain concentration and focus. Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemingway, Benjamin Franklin and Leonardo da Vinci were all famous advocates of standing desks.*

One interesting take on this which address exactly how much many of us now sit at desks all day is the Varidesk, which is adjustable in height and lets you sit or stand as you wish so you can vary your working style.

*Sources: Ergonomics, The BBC, The Economist

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