Background: Knowledge of sedentary behaviour associations with health has relied mainly on television-viewing as a proxy and studies with other measures are less common. To clarify whether sedentary behaviour is associated with disease-risk, we examined associations for television-viewing and sitting at work. Methods: Using the 1958 British birth cohort (n = 7660), we analysed cross-sectional associations between television-viewing and work sitting (four categories, 0-1 to ≥3 h/d) with total, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, glycated haemoglobin, fibrinogen, C-reactive protein, hypertension and metabolic syndrome at 45 y. We adjusted for lifestyle and socio-demographic factors and assessed mediation of associations by body mass index (BMI) and diet. We also assessed whether the sedentary indicators are related similarly to factors linked to disease-risk. Results: There was a general trend of adverse socio-demographic and lifestyle characteristics with higher h/d television-viewing, but trends in the opposite direction for work sitting. Television-viewing was associated with most biomarkers and associations were mediated by BMI: e.g. for each category increase in television-viewing, HDL-cholesterol in men was lower by 2.3% (95% CI: 1.5%, 3.2%) and, in BMI and diet adjusted analyses, by 1.6% (0.8%, 2.4%); for women, by 2.0% (1.2%, 2.9%) and 0.9% (0.1%, 1.6%) respectively. Few, weaker associations for work sitting were found, in men only: e.g. corresponding values for HDL-cholesterol were 1.2% (0.5%, 1.9%) and 0.9% (0.3%, 1.5%). Odds for metabolic syndrome were elevated by 82% and 33% respectively for men watching television or work sitting for ≥3 vs. 0-1 h/d. Conclusions: Associations with cardiovascular disease and diabetes biomarkers in mid-adulthood differed for television-viewing and work sitting. The role of sedentary behaviour may vary by leisure and work domains or the two indicators reflect differing associations with other disease-related influences.
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