People who spend most of the day sitting down at work and spending their evenings in front of the TV are much more likely to have several unhealthy lifestyle habits, according to one study.
he study, which was carried out on more than 7,000 Northern Irish officials, found that prolonged sedentary behavior was linked to physical inactivity, poor fruit and vegetable consumption and excessive alcohol consumption.
The main finding of the study of Stormont employees’ daily habits was that sitting more than seven hours at work and watching more than two hours of television in a work day more than doubled the likelihood of engaging in more than three unhealthy behaviors.
More than three hours of watching TV on a non-working day nearly tripled the chances of engaging in three or more unhealthy behaviors.
“The three most common unhealthy behaviors associated with sitting at work and watching TV were physical inactivity, under-consuming fruit and vegetables, and over-consuming alcohol.” Dr. Victoria kettle, said the lead author of the study.
“Of the three, the most common was physical inactivity, with 78 percent of office workers failing physical activity guidelines.”
The study has implications for Ireland as over the past 50 years there has been a sharp decline in agricultural and industrial employment, which tend to be physically demanding, in favor of service occupations, which are more sedentary.
Dr. Kettle said the high prevalence of sedentary behavior among office workers puts this population at risk of the health effects associated with long periods of sitting.
“These include an increased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, cancer, depression and all-cause mortality from cardiovascular and cancer diseases.”
Of those who sit at work for more than seven hours a day and watch TV for more than two hours a day, 24pc engaged in more than three unhealthy behaviors. They have been compared to People who sit at work for less than six hours and who have spent less than an hour in front of the television in the evening
The public health expert said there are some factors that could explain the relationship between sitting time and unhealthy behavior.
“Firstly, sitting time could displace time for physical activity, especially during leisure time or watching TV, so that high-seated people tend to spend less time being active,” Dr. Kettle said.
“It is also common that people who spend a lot of time sitting at work also have a lot of sitting time outside of work.”
The research fellow at the Center for Lifestyle Medicine and Behavior at Loughborough University The study found that watching television was linked to increased unhealthy consumption of food and drink and decreased consumption of fruits and vegetables.
“TV commercials can encourage viewers to behave unhealthily, with increased smoking also being linked to TV commercials,” she said.
“In addition, when watching TV, viewers are distracted by how much they are eating, which can lead to overconsumption.”
The last census in the Republic of Ireland in April 2016 found that 78.6 percent of all employees were in the service sector. This is in stark contrast to the situation 50 years ago, when the sector was just over 41 percent of jobs.
The agricultural sector has seen a sharp decline, with the sector accounting for 4.6 percent of total employment in 2016, compared to just over 31 percent 1966. The number of jobs in industry has fallen to over 16 percent in 2016, compared to 28 percent in 1986.
Dr. Kettle said one needs to be aware of the unhealthy effects of sitting.
“Physical activity monitors can encourage people to be more active by using motion alerts, but most cannot distinguish between sitting and standing.
“Moving to job vacancies, including Sit-stand desks, central printers and wastebasket and attractive stairs, would be very beneficial. “